I bred my mare last year to a stallion in Canada. The first shipment of cooled semen was sent in a disposable container and arrived at my vet with only 20% motility. My mare was ovulating (and I was at work and unable to be reached) so my vet used it and told me that the odds weren’t good but the timing was perfect so maybe I’d get lucky.
My vet contacted the stallion owner and their response wasn’t at all what I expected. There was no concern shown that the semen arrived in what my vet considered non-viable condition. Their response (to me) was that when she was contacted by my vet “she went straight to the sample they kept back, put a drop on a pre-warmed slide, warmed the sample in the incubator at 38 degrees for 5 mins. When looked at, the sample was well over 50% PMS”. I expected some concern that something happened during shipping, complications at the border, I don’t know but certainly not, essentially, “not our fault”.
Not surprisingly, my mare wasn’t pregnant when ultrasounded. So we tried again. Did hormone shots and ultrasounded, the mare is due to ovulate so our vet calls the stallion owner for a shipment and has them send the semen in an Equitainer this time. The semen arrives at LESS than 20% motility. My vet is very good with years of experience but still had two other vets take a look because she wanted confirmation that the semen really was that bad since this was the second time this had happened. It was that bad. My vet called me at work and I told her to go ahead and use it since my mare was ovulating and this was all we had available.
I received my bill from the stallion owner (all this is by email or FB messenger) and it’s much higher than I anticipated. I was expecting it to be high, the Equitainer was a lot more to ship and had to be returned, but here’s the big one: I was charged a collection fee of $210.64. I was shocked. I don’t breed very often but know several stallion owners and the ones that I’ve dealt with have always been awesome! The stallion contract clearly reads “[Stallion owner] agrees to provide fresh cooled semen from [stallion] in viable condition at time of delivery to the shipping address provided on the Semen Request Form." When I inquired about the collection fee, I was told, “Once the semen leaves our control we cannot be held responsible for what happens to it.” I’m sorry, but the contract I signed states otherwise.
At the same time that this was happening we were making a very long distance move, the truck broke down on the way, etc. So I paid my bill, minus the collection fee, and moved on. We didn’t ultrasound the mare because the odds were so low that she was pregnant and she appeared to come in heat shortly after we got to our new place. The mare was on pasture in a mixed herd and appeared to be cycling normally since we got here. I had no plans of breeding until I got better facilities so I didn’t worry about it until, about a month ago, I did a double take on our fat mare. She still had a “hay belly” but she was looking a little ribby and just not quite right. You guessed it! Mare was pregnant! I vaccinated the mare, started feeding her better/extra, and waited. A few days ago we had a beautiful, healthy colt! I made the obligatory Facebook announcements and yesterday received an email from the stallion owner basically saying, “We told you it wasn’t our fault, now pay the collection fee”.
So. What would you do?