I should have known better than to question how to perform a sonogram on a horse.
Obviously it's not something you talk about every day. In fact, I don't think I have ever talked about it. I have definitely never seen someone perform a sonogram on a horse. I didn’t know how it was done and I was obviously talking to someone who did, so before I knew it, I was uncomfortably ensconced in a full-blown conversation about horse breeding.
A young student stopped by my office earlier today. She is a student worker for an office that works closely with ours, so she spends quite a bit of time in our building working on various projects. We all know her as the girl from Arizona who rode her horse to school.
She didn’t literally ride it, but as a high school student, she was looking for a small university where she might be able to board her horse so she could continue to train it and ride it. She looked at several other school nearer to her hometown, but they didn’t have any way for her to bring her horse with her. When she contacted our admissions office, somebody knew somebody who trains and breeds (apparently) horses in the area. They put her in contact with this family and the family agreed to let her board her horse at their place in exchange for some afternoon help with their other horses. It was a good deal for her and a good deal for us because she is basically a good kid and is fun to pick on.
Knowing, however, that she spends much of her spare time with horses, I always like to ask how her horse is doing. Apparently it’s breeding season in the world of horses. They just birthed a colt at the old stables and are expecting another one any day. She had pictures of the new critter of which she is quite proud. Then she told me that later in the afternoon she was going to have to perform a sonogram on a mare. This is where I made the mistake.
“That must be interesting,” I said.
“Yea,” she answered, “but it's kind of gross because the glove only goes up to here.” She pointed to her shoulder.
Now, I’ve watched enough television and heard enough stories to know that there are times when a human must stick their arm up an animal’s rear end to accomplish certain necessary functions. I was not aware that sonograms were such a function.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “How do you do a sonogram on a horse?”
And there it was -- the simple question that led to a discussion about horses and their mating habits.
Did you know that horses in captivity are artificially inseminated because they “go crazy” and are so rough that they could actually kill each other? Horses in the wild can apparently handle it, although there might be significant bruising.
She proceeded to tell me that she would much rather be the one who sticks her arm up the female as opposed to the one who has to deal with the male. At which point I just stared at here because I couldn’t quite imagine what that would entail. I mean, do they usher the male horse to a private room and give him a dirty magazine?
I didn’t really ask because I was moderately uncomfortable at this point, but she proceeded to tell me about the male horse and the dummy and how she would much rather work on the female than be the one on the other side of the dummy with the bag.
“With the bag?” I should have kept my mouth shut but the question was out before I could stop myself.
“Well, somebody has to catch it.”
Yeah … that’s what I thought, too. I’ll admit, however, that while the conversation was a bit disturbing, it was also enlightening in that I didn’t really know that much about breeding horses.
I pointed out to the young lady that she would have to forgive me if I failed shake her hand any time in the near future. To which she replied that shaking hands wasn’t so bad … “You should be the one who has to eat with them.”