If you’ve purchased cooled semen for your mare or shipped cooled semen for your stallion, you have a horse named Galoubet A to thank for that.
Galoubet, a Selle Français stallion who sired Baloubet du Rouet, winner of three World Cup Show Jumping Finals and a team Olympic Games bronze medal, was owned by a syndicate of more than 100 owners. Since half of those owners were in the United States in 1983 it was decided that Galoubet would stand at Hamilton Farm in South Hamilton, Mass.
But Galoubet’s relocation was problematic because half of his shareholders were still in France, and Hamilton Farm was too small for hundreds of mares to ship in and out of each year.
Enter the Equitainer, a container designed at Hamilton Farm to maintain a constant cool temperature during shipping, and the first example of commercialized cooled semen. The Equitainer allowed Galoubet semen to be shipped from Boston to Paris three days a week for several years.
“It really changed how people bred horses,” said Paul Loomis of Select Breeders Services. “There was a time when every mare had to go to the stud farm, even when they were being artificially inseminated, because you had to collect the stallions and have the mares right there. So then transported semen comes along, and everyone goes, ‘Well, this is great. I can keep my mare at home and just have my vet come out. I’ll get a shipment in the mail, and we’ll breed her at home.’ People just jumped all over that. Now you don’t have to breed with any horse that’s close by, you can breed to any stallion across the country.”
But while shipped semen brought tremendous advantages and new freedoms to breeders, there was a downside.
“The way cooled semen was promoted and marketed to the industry was that this is simple technology—you should be able to breed your mare in your backyard and, by the way, you as a stallion owner should be able to collect, process and ship semen without any trouble,” said Loomis. “It’s not as simple as that. But it’s improved over years because of the passage of time and more experience.”
Now very little cooled semen is shipped to and from Europe because new U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements make it difficult to transport within the time allowed. But while cooled semen only stays viable for about 48 hours in an Equitainer, frozen semen stays cold in its shipping container for more than two weeks and in storage indefinitely.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. “Nature’s Course Isn’t As Simple As It Used To Be” and “Galoubet Changed The Game” ran in the Dec. 3, 2010 issue. Check out the table of contents to see what great stories are in the magazine this week.