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Bimbo (2009)

Before I left Niger, I mentioned in an earlier post that my ten year old barb mare Arwen had been mated with the sire of our choice. Unlike the the “Hausa way”, I wrote, Arwen’s last mating was very gentle.

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Arwen & DanMaffia (2007)

Blog reader Laurel asked what the difference was. Well, the traditional Hausa way is a fairly brutal way of mating your horses. It involves tying up the mare so that she cannot move, then making sure the male covers her as quickly as possible and that no semen is dropped on the ground. The process, as I have experienced it, involves a high level of stress, lots of unnecessary human intervenion and absolutely no communication between the two animals.

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Racing champion Rahaman (2005)

When I had Arwen mated for the first time in 2006, I was totally green and knew nothing about horse breeding and how it was done. As the stallion (Rahaman) I had asked for was very valuable, I had to accept that my mare was restrained from hurting him. This did not restrain the stallion from hurting my mare, who in his eagerness to produce offspring flung her to the ground. As the two were not introduced to one another, Arwen was terrified and fought back all that she could. The mating did not take.

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Sahara & Rio (2008)

It was Sahara who showed us true horse love, when she fell in love with her teaser. The bond between the young mare and the colt was so strong that Anette (Sahara’s owner) did not want to give Sahara a more established stallion.

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Sahara & Rio (2008)

Having been introduced from two sides of a brick wall (preventing any form of kicking, should that take place), Rio the teaser was led to the mare, who willingly accepted him without fuss. For the horse community of Zinder, and has led the way to a more relaxed way of breeding horses.

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After Sahara’s successful mating (which resulted, 11 months later, in the beautiful filly Kalahari), I promised myself I would never put my mares through any mating that was against their will.

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Having picked out the sire of our choice – a renowned champion by the name of Bimbo – the two were allowed to meet in a very relaxed manner from two sides of a mud wall. The wall had to be very high to prevent the stallion from hurting himself trying to cross the wall, but such walls are easy to find… :-)

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As soon as Arwen showed her readiness, the stallion was brought to her.

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Because of the stallions value, Arwen’s legs were restrained on both sides, allowing her to walk, but preventing her from kicking. I told her handler to walk her around in circles, but to interfere as little as possible. The same applied to the handlers of the stallion.

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After a few rounds of walking, Arwen suddenly stopped and accepted the stallion on her own accord. What a contrast from her two previous matings!!!

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The handlers were still very nervous and fearful that the stallion would not know what to do without human intervention, but except from a little help in positioning, the two animals were allowed to do things according to the laws of nature. In this situation, my main concern was the well being of my mare, and as long as she accepted, I was fine.

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Although Arwen will never be as passionate about equine relations as our other mare Sahara, there was thoughtfulness in her eyes that pleased me. While Bimbo the stallion seemed to dose off on her back, Arwen just stood there for a long while, before finally shaking him off. Now we will just have to wait and see if the mating will result in a pregnancy or not. I will not know for a good couple of months, and the horse handlers are convinced that if we tease Arwen again, she will inevitably go on heat and any further mating will “kill” the fetus now growing in her belly. Preferably, a mated mare should be tied to a post for the coming year in order to ensure that she does not lose her offspring. Many concerned voices have scolded me for allowing my mares to work while in foal, but what they do no know is that the mare who loses her muscles is in much higher jeopardy of having complications at birth, than the mare who is kept fit throughout her pregnancy and allowed to work according to her heart’s desire.

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Local multi-champion Aldo (2010)

Arwen is not the only mated mare of Ishtar’s Ark this season.

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My first choice was actually a mating between Sahara and local barb multi-champion Aldo (whom I have been waiting for since 2006), but while we kept trying to tune in on Sahara’s heat (see the picture above), we were constantly either too early or too late.

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Aldo & Ebony

Our gentle giant Ebony however was more than willing to communicate with the boys.

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Saving Aldo for Sahara, Ebony was introduced to different racing champion; a slender black stallion with a gentle approach. Because of Ebony’s slightly overgrown frame, I wanted a stallion with a neat figure, to ensure a well-balanced offspring.

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As our gentle giant shows comparably little emotion, it was nice to see her communicate with her given suitor. Unlike Sahara (who is about snuggling) and Arwen (who is very passionate when she expresses her desire or discontent), Ebony touched face with the stallion and then very matter-of-factly accepted him.

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By then, the handlers (who were the same as with Arwen – as all stallions belong to the same “house”) knew the routine and were very relaxed about it. And as we all know, horses are relaxed when the humans are relaxed.

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Knowing little about Ebony’s past, the mating was so uncomplicated that I suspect she has been introduced to the concept before (although she does not seem to have given birth). The mating was so simply that the whole process was done within a quarter of an hour. Now we will just have to wait and see if Ebony is in foal or not.

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Isolde yar’Arwen (2008)

Does this mean 2011 will be filled with newborns again? We will just have to see!

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Sheba & Kalahari (2009)

If that is the case, I know one little RR helper who will be more than willing to raise and protect those equine babies!

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Thankfully, horse breeding is a long term project, for during the coming year, I know much of my spare time will go into training our three equine youngsters: newcomer Ivory (age three) and our very own Isolde (eighteen months) and Kalahari (fourteen months)… As you can tell, I can’t wait to get back down there!

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