Another milestone in breeding technology was reached this week with the birth of the first embryo transfer (ET) triplets in Britain.

The foals were born to three surrogate mares 11 months after a top polo pony donor mare visited vet Emma Tomlinson’s ET centre in Gloucestershire, where 44 flushings (the removal of a growing embryo from the uterus) were carried out last year.

Some 25% of polo ponies in the Argentine Open tournament last year were born by ET, a process that can be done without surgery and takes around 30min. The donor mare’s life is hardly disturbed.

Argentine ET expert Fernando Riera, who performed the procedure, says: “Embryo transfer should be very important to Britain — breeding is so expensive that you should only breed from the best.”

About embryo transfer

Embryo transfer is a technique where a six- to eight-day-old embryo is flushed from the uterus of a donor mare and is then transferred into a recipient mare. This enables the doner mare to continue working or competing without a break.

The technology, which costs between £1,000-£2,000 commercially, is beginning to catch on in Britain having been in regular use abroad for a decade.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (14 August), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.