Equine students at St Peter’s School in Cambridge have a very special project for the next 12 months.
They have been charged with the care of the first standardbred foal to be born from a frozen embryo in New Zealand, using technology by Equibreed an equine facility near Cambridge. Equibreed is currently the only centre in NZ to specialise in the type of technology used to produce the foal.
Equibreed have offered the foal as a special project for equine students to manage at St Peter’s Cambridge. The foal will live at the school for the next 12 months, until it is ready to start its’ career in harness racing or sports horse.
“The students are really invested in the foal. Taking it from when it’s weaned, to it’s broken and getting ready for its career, it’s a chance for the students to be around everything that’s involved in that process. They’ll be able to learn about its nutrition, its care, its handling and eventually its training.” Pete Hammond, St Peter’s Director of Equestrian
Hammond goes on to say that the project can show students the range of career possibilities within the equine industry, not just as a competitor, but also in associated industries.
Interestingly, a stallion and two mares, along with the associated technology at Equibreed, were involved in producing the foal at St Peter’s.
Frozen sperm was taken from a Standardbred stallion, Mr Feelgood, at a stud in Australia. Imsmartenough ovulated and another eight days later, the embryo was flushed out of the mare. The embryo was then transferred into a surrogate mare, Ferrero Rocher, which carried the foal to term.
Equibreed’s broodmare manager, Jeantel Stander, said while the foal will have the genetics of the donor mare, Iamsmartenough, it will also carry the ‘personality type’ or good temperament of the surrogate mare, Ferrero Rocher.
The advantage of the technology used in this process, is that it allows the donor mare to keep racing and competing, without having to go full term with a pregnancy to produce a foal.