“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing: the result,” said Vince Lombardi of Green Bay Packer lore. So what does this have to do with equine reproduction? It is this very attitude that behavior specialist Sue McDonnell, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine adopts when training novice stallions to use a dummy mount.
During her presentation at the 2011 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 18–22 in San Antonio, Texas, McDonnell explained how training a novice stallion properly can result in more successful and safer semen collection.
The time required to train a stallion to use a dummy mount can just a few days to several weeks. McDonnell described the typical training process and relayed these practical tips for efficiently starting stallions:
- Conduct two to three training sessions for three to five consecutive days.
- Schedule the dummy training separate from the breeding soundness examination, and do not add pressure to the situation by expecting to sell or evaluate the semen, as the training process might be deleterious to semen quality (the training process has the potential to be a stressor for the stallion).
- Use the “KISS” theory—keep it simple, stupid— only using the staff and equipment necessary.
- Ensure the breeding shed large enough for the activity (approximately 40-by-40 feet) and has solid, slip-free footing. Loose footing can get kicked up onto the stallion’s penis, be abrasive, and contaminate the sample.