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Tuesday’s Children

Erin Frustaci
for The Fence Post
efrustaci@fortcollinsnow.com
Photo by Lourie ZipfJennifer Mears poses with "Katie," left, and "Friday," at her mother's

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When the violent tornado ripped through Windsor on May 22, Jennifer Mears lost her best friend. The overpowering wind uprooted a shed, pulling out the wooden posts and concrete and rolled onto her beloved 12-year-old horse named Tuesday.

Jennifer Mears was at work when the storm hit, but her mother Wendy Mears and her sister Mandy Mercer scrambled to gather all the horses into the barn. It wasn’t long before they discovered Tuesday was limping.

They quickly called their vet, and loaded the horse into the trailer. Because of the severity of the injury, Tuesday was then taken to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital equine emergency facility at Colorado State University. She had suffered a significant fracture to her lower hind leg. The team stabilized the horse, but determined through radiographs that surgery would not be very promising. The only option was to euthanize the horse.

“They told us that if they put her leg back together, she would be in pain the rest of her life,” Wendy Mears said. “We decided there was nothing we could do.”

It was a grim diagnosis for Tuesday, which the family already considered somewhat of a miracle horse due to the fact that she’d only taken 30 days to transform from a pasture horse to an award-winning show horse. From the first time Jennifer Mears rode Tuesday, the two seemed to click.

“She was perfect for what I needed. She was a replication of me in horse form. We had the same attitude, but worked well together. She did everything I could have asked of her,” she said. “It’s always hard to watch a best friend fade to a memory but at least it’s a good memory.”

But with the help of a dedicated research team at CSU, a piece of that memory will soon be reborn. When the family decided it would be best to put the horse down, the veterinarians told them about CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory. The family was told that if Tuesday’s ovaries were recovered, there was potential for them to be used in future reproduction.

“I wasn’t too sure to begin with,” Jennifer Mears said. But, she decided to see what would happen.

Staff members at CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory collected a total of 20 eggs, or oocytes, from Tuesday’s ovaries and incubated them for about 24 hours. During that time, Donna Ackerman, a horse breeder near Greeley, let the family pick one of her stallions to act as a sire, from free of charge.

The next day, the CSU team used a micromanipulator to inject 14 of the eggs with a single sperm through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The meticulous work is done under a large microscope with video-like joysticks controlling each move. Once injected, the eggs were placed back into the incubator.

At that point, the search was on for surrogate mares. Neighbors and friends brought their mares to the Mears’ farm for reproductive examinations. Of the 14 injected eggs, four developed into embryos. The CSU staff identified four mares, one of which belonged to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory itself, and the embryos were transferred non-surgically. A week later, two of the four mares became pregnant”one was the mare from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. She was renamed Friday as a tribute to Tuesday.

The other pregnant mare was another of the Mears’ horses, Katie. In keeping with the day-of-the-week theme, they decided to name the two foals Wednesday and Thursday.

Pat McCue, director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said there was about a 30 percent chance that just one of the embryos would take, and it called it a miracle that two pregnancies developed.

The pregnant mares will remain on the farm in Windsor and the births are expected in the spring. They will have a six-month ultrasound and checkup in October and will go back to CSU 30 days before they are due.

Jennifer Mears is ready to pitch a tent near the stalls so she can witness the births along with the CSU students.

“We will get a phone call when the go into labor,” Wendy Mears said.

Elaine Carnevale, who works in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said the biggest challenge of the whole procedure was keeping the eggs and embryos happy and growing in the incubator.

“The environment in the incubator is not as good as in (a) mare, so we have to try to compensate for that,” she said.

Carnevale’s department has assisted with dozens of similar pregnancies over the last few years. The procedure is used when there is an injury like in Tuesday’s case, or if there are infertility problems. The technology is applied for both male and female horses. For example, if a stallion is injured, the testes can be collected and shipped to researchers at CSU so the sperm can be harvested and frozen to generate a pregnancy in a mare at a later date. Carnevale estimates her department receives about one or two ovaries and testes from all over the country each month.

Typically, this type of procedure is done to preserve valuable blood lines.

“We can give the owners the option to continue that lineage,” she said. “The uniqueness of this case was that a traumatic incident occurred and the really unique aspect is that so many people in the community and the university pulled together to help the family and help give them a foal.”

Though the procedure usually costs thousands of dollars, it was done completely free of charge for the Mears family. McCue, who witnessed the devastation from the tornado first hand when he volunteered with the Red Cross, felt compelled to do something more.

“We felt we could pitch in in our own way and use our expertise to make something positive come out of something very tragic,” McCue said. “A lot of people pulled together from CSU and a number of family and friends from the farm.”

In addition, the clinical work was also an opportunity for students to witness leading industry technology. As McCue put it, CSU is known for its ability to take scientific advancements and convert them into direct application. He said it took a lot of background research to make this type of procedure possible.

Beyond that, Carnevale said there are several parallels to what is being done with humans. She said the work done in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory allows researchers to see how techniques are working with another species, specifically when it comes to maternal aging.

But for the Mears, the meaning stretches way beyond science.

“With all the attention they have had and they are not even here yet, we have big plans for them,” Wendy Mears said of the two foals. “They will go on to have show careers of their own. They are destined for greatness.”

And, for Jennifer Mears, the legacy of her best friend will live on.

“It’s been an amazing process to watch. It’s been an amazing learning process for me. When it’s something that’s going to change your life forever, it’s pretty cool.”

When the violent tornado ripped through Windsor on May 22, Jennifer Mears lost her best friend. The overpowering wind uprooted a shed, pulling out the wooden posts and concrete and rolled onto her beloved 12-year-old horse named Tuesday.

Jennifer Mears was at work when the storm hit, but her mother Wendy Mears and her sister Mandy Mercer scrambled to gather all the horses into the barn. It wasn’t long before they discovered Tuesday was limping.

They quickly called their vet, and loaded the horse into the trailer. Because of the severity of the injury, Tuesday was then taken to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital equine emergency facility at Colorado State University. She had suffered a significant fracture to her lower hind leg. The team stabilized the horse, but determined through radiographs that surgery would not be very promising. The only option was to euthanize the horse.

“They told us that if they put her leg back together, she would be in pain the rest of her life,” Wendy Mears said. “We decided there was nothing we could do.”

It was a grim diagnosis for Tuesday, which the family already considered somewhat of a miracle horse due to the fact that she’d only taken 30 days to transform from a pasture horse to an award-winning show horse. From the first time Jennifer Mears rode Tuesday, the two seemed to click.

“She was perfect for what I needed. She was a replication of me in horse form. We had the same attitude, but worked well together. She did everything I could have asked of her,” she said. “It’s always hard to watch a best friend fade to a memory but at least it’s a good memory.”

But with the help of a dedicated research team at CSU, a piece of that memory will soon be reborn. When the family decided it would be best to put the horse down, the veterinarians told them about CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory. The family was told that if Tuesday’s ovaries were recovered, there was potential for them to be used in future reproduction.

“I wasn’t too sure to begin with,” Jennifer Mears said. But, she decided to see what would happen.

Staff members at CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory collected a total of 20 eggs, or oocytes, from Tuesday’s ovaries and incubated them for about 24 hours. During that time, Donna Ackerman, a horse breeder near Greeley, let the family pick one of her stallions to act as a sire, from free of charge.

The next day, the CSU team used a micromanipulator to inject 14 of the eggs with a single sperm through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The meticulous work is done under a large microscope with video-like joysticks controlling each move. Once injected, the eggs were placed back into the incubator.

At that point, the search was on for surrogate mares. Neighbors and friends brought their mares to the Mears’ farm for reproductive examinations. Of the 14 injected eggs, four developed into embryos. The CSU staff identified four mares, one of which belonged to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory itself, and the embryos were transferred non-surgically. A week later, two of the four mares became pregnant”one was the mare from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. She was renamed Friday as a tribute to Tuesday.

The other pregnant mare was another of the Mears’ horses, Katie. In keeping with the day-of-the-week theme, they decided to name the two foals Wednesday and Thursday.

Pat McCue, director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said there was about a 30 percent chance that just one of the embryos would take, and it called it a miracle that two pregnancies developed.

The pregnant mares will remain on the farm in Windsor and the births are expected in the spring. They will have a six-month ultrasound and checkup in October and will go back to CSU 30 days before they are due.

Jennifer Mears is ready to pitch a tent near the stalls so she can witness the births along with the CSU students.

“We will get a phone call when the go into labor,” Wendy Mears said.

Elaine Carnevale, who works in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said the biggest challenge of the whole procedure was keeping the eggs and embryos happy and growing in the incubator.

“The environment in the incubator is not as good as in (a) mare, so we have to try to compensate for that,” she said.

Carnevale’s department has assisted with dozens of similar pregnancies over the last few years. The procedure is used when there is an injury like in Tuesday’s case, or if there are infertility problems. The technology is applied for both male and female horses. For example, if a stallion is injured, the testes can be collected and shipped to researchers at CSU so the sperm can be harvested and frozen to generate a pregnancy in a mare at a later date. Carnevale estimates her department receives about one or two ovaries and testes from all over the country each month.

Typically, this type of procedure is done to preserve valuable blood lines.

“We can give the owners the option to continue that lineage,” she said. “The uniqueness of this case was that a traumatic incident occurred and the really unique aspect is that so many people in the community and the university pulled together to help the family and help give them a foal.”

Though the procedure usually costs thousands of dollars, it was done completely free of charge for the Mears family. McCue, who witnessed the devastation from the tornado first hand when he volunteered with the Red Cross, felt compelled to do something more.

“We felt we could pitch in in our own way and use our expertise to make something positive come out of something very tragic,” McCue said. “A lot of people pulled together from CSU and a number of family and friends from the farm.”

In addition, the clinical work was also an opportunity for students to witness leading industry technology. As McCue put it, CSU is known for its ability to take scientific advancements and convert them into direct application. He said it took a lot of background research to make this type of procedure possible.

Beyond that, Carnevale said there are several parallels to what is being done with humans. She said the work done in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory allows researchers to see how techniques are working with another species, specifically when it comes to maternal aging.

But for the Mears, the meaning stretches way beyond science.

“With all the attention they have had and they are not even here yet, we have big plans for them,” Wendy Mears said of the two foals. “They will go on to have show careers of their own. They are destined for greatness.”

And, for Jennifer Mears, the legacy of her best friend will live on.

“It’s been an amazing process to watch. It’s been an amazing learning process for me. When it’s something that’s going to change your life forever, it’s pretty cool.”

When the violent tornado ripped through Windsor on May 22, Jennifer Mears lost her best friend. The overpowering wind uprooted a shed, pulling out the wooden posts and concrete and rolled onto her beloved 12-year-old horse named Tuesday.

Jennifer Mears was at work when the storm hit, but her mother Wendy Mears and her sister Mandy Mercer scrambled to gather all the horses into the barn. It wasn’t long before they discovered Tuesday was limping.

They quickly called their vet, and loaded the horse into the trailer. Because of the severity of the injury, Tuesday was then taken to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital equine emergency facility at Colorado State University. She had suffered a significant fracture to her lower hind leg. The team stabilized the horse, but determined through radiographs that surgery would not be very promising. The only option was to euthanize the horse.

“They told us that if they put her leg back together, she would be in pain the rest of her life,” Wendy Mears said. “We decided there was nothing we could do.”

It was a grim diagnosis for Tuesday, which the family already considered somewhat of a miracle horse due to the fact that she’d only taken 30 days to transform from a pasture horse to an award-winning show horse. From the first time Jennifer Mears rode Tuesday, the two seemed to click.

“She was perfect for what I needed. She was a replication of me in horse form. We had the same attitude, but worked well together. She did everything I could have asked of her,” she said. “It’s always hard to watch a best friend fade to a memory but at least it’s a good memory.”

But with the help of a dedicated research team at CSU, a piece of that memory will soon be reborn. When the family decided it would be best to put the horse down, the veterinarians told them about CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory. The family was told that if Tuesday’s ovaries were recovered, there was potential for them to be used in future reproduction.

“I wasn’t too sure to begin with,” Jennifer Mears said. But, she decided to see what would happen.

Staff members at CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory collected a total of 20 eggs, or oocytes, from Tuesday’s ovaries and incubated them for about 24 hours. During that time, Donna Ackerman, a horse breeder near Greeley, let the family pick one of her stallions to act as a sire, from free of charge.

The next day, the CSU team used a micromanipulator to inject 14 of the eggs with a single sperm through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The meticulous work is done under a large microscope with video-like joysticks controlling each move. Once injected, the eggs were placed back into the incubator.

At that point, the search was on for surrogate mares. Neighbors and friends brought their mares to the Mears’ farm for reproductive examinations. Of the 14 injected eggs, four developed into embryos. The CSU staff identified four mares, one of which belonged to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory itself, and the embryos were transferred non-surgically. A week later, two of the four mares became pregnant”one was the mare from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. She was renamed Friday as a tribute to Tuesday.

The other pregnant mare was another of the Mears’ horses, Katie. In keeping with the day-of-the-week theme, they decided to name the two foals Wednesday and Thursday.

Pat McCue, director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said there was about a 30 percent chance that just one of the embryos would take, and it called it a miracle that two pregnancies developed.

The pregnant mares will remain on the farm in Windsor and the births are expected in the spring. They will have a six-month ultrasound and checkup in October and will go back to CSU 30 days before they are due.

Jennifer Mears is ready to pitch a tent near the stalls so she can witness the births along with the CSU students.

“We will get a phone call when the go into labor,” Wendy Mears said.

Elaine Carnevale, who works in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said the biggest challenge of the whole procedure was keeping the eggs and embryos happy and growing in the incubator.

“The environment in the incubator is not as good as in (a) mare, so we have to try to compensate for that,” she said.

Carnevale’s department has assisted with dozens of similar pregnancies over the last few years. The procedure is used when there is an injury like in Tuesday’s case, or if there are infertility problems. The technology is applied for both male and female horses. For example, if a stallion is injured, the testes can be collected and shipped to researchers at CSU so the sperm can be harvested and frozen to generate a pregnancy in a mare at a later date. Carnevale estimates her department receives about one or two ovaries and testes from all over the country each month.

Typically, this type of procedure is done to preserve valuable blood lines.

“We can give the owners the option to continue that lineage,” she said. “The uniqueness of this case was that a traumatic incident occurred and the really unique aspect is that so many people in the community and the university pulled together to help the family and help give them a foal.”

Though the procedure usually costs thousands of dollars, it was done completely free of charge for the Mears family. McCue, who witnessed the devastation from the tornado first hand when he volunteered with the Red Cross, felt compelled to do something more.

“We felt we could pitch in in our own way and use our expertise to make something positive come out of something very tragic,” McCue said. “A lot of people pulled together from CSU and a number of family and friends from the farm.”

In addition, the clinical work was also an opportunity for students to witness leading industry technology. As McCue put it, CSU is known for its ability to take scientific advancements and convert them into direct application. He said it took a lot of background research to make this type of procedure possible.

Beyond that, Carnevale said there are several parallels to what is being done with humans. She said the work done in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory allows researchers to see how techniques are working with another species, specifically when it comes to maternal aging.

But for the Mears, the meaning stretches way beyond science.

“With all the attention they have had and they are not even here yet, we have big plans for them,” Wendy Mears said of the two foals. “They will go on to have show careers of their own. They are destined for greatness.”

And, for Jennifer Mears, the legacy of her best friend will live on.

“It’s been an amazing process to watch. It’s been an amazing learning process for me. When it’s something that’s going to change your life forever, it’s pretty cool.”

When the violent tornado ripped through Windsor on May 22, Jennifer Mears lost her best friend. The overpowering wind uprooted a shed, pulling out the wooden posts and concrete and rolled onto her beloved 12-year-old horse named Tuesday.

Jennifer Mears was at work when the storm hit, but her mother Wendy Mears and her sister Mandy Mercer scrambled to gather all the horses into the barn. It wasn’t long before they discovered Tuesday was limping.

They quickly called their vet, and loaded the horse into the trailer. Because of the severity of the injury, Tuesday was then taken to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital equine emergency facility at Colorado State University. She had suffered a significant fracture to her lower hind leg. The team stabilized the horse, but determined through radiographs that surgery would not be very promising. The only option was to euthanize the horse.

“They told us that if they put her leg back together, she would be in pain the rest of her life,” Wendy Mears said. “We decided there was nothing we could do.”

It was a grim diagnosis for Tuesday, which the family already considered somewhat of a miracle horse due to the fact that she’d only taken 30 days to transform from a pasture horse to an award-winning show horse. From the first time Jennifer Mears rode Tuesday, the two seemed to click.

“She was perfect for what I needed. She was a replication of me in horse form. We had the same attitude, but worked well together. She did everything I could have asked of her,” she said. “It’s always hard to watch a best friend fade to a memory but at least it’s a good memory.”

But with the help of a dedicated research team at CSU, a piece of that memory will soon be reborn. When the family decided it would be best to put the horse down, the veterinarians told them about CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory. The family was told that if Tuesday’s ovaries were recovered, there was potential for them to be used in future reproduction.

“I wasn’t too sure to begin with,” Jennifer Mears said. But, she decided to see what would happen.

Staff members at CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory collected a total of 20 eggs, or oocytes, from Tuesday’s ovaries and incubated them for about 24 hours. During that time, Donna Ackerman, a horse breeder near Greeley, let the family pick one of her stallions to act as a sire, from free of charge.

The next day, the CSU team used a micromanipulator to inject 14 of the eggs with a single sperm through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The meticulous work is done under a large microscope with video-like joysticks controlling each move. Once injected, the eggs were placed back into the incubator.

At that point, the search was on for surrogate mares. Neighbors and friends brought their mares to the Mears’ farm for reproductive examinations. Of the 14 injected eggs, four developed into embryos. The CSU staff identified four mares, one of which belonged to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory itself, and the embryos were transferred non-surgically. A week later, two of the four mares became pregnant”one was the mare from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. She was renamed Friday as a tribute to Tuesday.

The other pregnant mare was another of the Mears’ horses, Katie. In keeping with the day-of-the-week theme, they decided to name the two foals Wednesday and Thursday.

Pat McCue, director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said there was about a 30 percent chance that just one of the embryos would take, and it called it a miracle that two pregnancies developed.

The pregnant mares will remain on the farm in Windsor and the births are expected in the spring. They will have a six-month ultrasound and checkup in October and will go back to CSU 30 days before they are due.

Jennifer Mears is ready to pitch a tent near the stalls so she can witness the births along with the CSU students.

“We will get a phone call when the go into labor,” Wendy Mears said.

Elaine Carnevale, who works in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory, said the biggest challenge of the whole procedure was keeping the eggs and embryos happy and growing in the incubator.

“The environment in the incubator is not as good as in (a) mare, so we have to try to compensate for that,” she said.

Carnevale’s department has assisted with dozens of similar pregnancies over the last few years. The procedure is used when there is an injury like in Tuesday’s case, or if there are infertility problems. The technology is applied for both male and female horses. For example, if a stallion is injured, the testes can be collected and shipped to researchers at CSU so the sperm can be harvested and frozen to generate a pregnancy in a mare at a later date. Carnevale estimates her department receives about one or two ovaries and testes from all over the country each month.

Typically, this type of procedure is done to preserve valuable blood lines.

“We can give the owners the option to continue that lineage,” she said. “The uniqueness of this case was that a traumatic incident occurred and the really unique aspect is that so many people in the community and the university pulled together to help the family and help give them a foal.”

Though the procedure usually costs thousands of dollars, it was done completely free of charge for the Mears family. McCue, who witnessed the devastation from the tornado first hand when he volunteered with the Red Cross, felt compelled to do something more.

“We felt we could pitch in in our own way and use our expertise to make something positive come out of something very tragic,” McCue said. “A lot of people pulled together from CSU and a number of family and friends from the farm.”

In addition, the clinical work was also an opportunity for students to witness leading industry technology. As McCue put it, CSU is known for its ability to take scientific advancements and convert them into direct application. He said it took a lot of background research to make this type of procedure possible.

Beyond that, Carnevale said there are several parallels to what is being done with humans. She said the work done in the Equine Reproduction Laboratory allows researchers to see how techniques are working with another species, specifically when it comes to maternal aging.

But for the Mears, the meaning stretches way beyond science.

“With all the attention they have had and they are not even here yet, we have big plans for them,” Wendy Mears said of the two foals. “They will go on to have show careers of their own. They are destined for greatness.”

And, for Jennifer Mears, the legacy of her best friend will live on.

“It’s been an amazing process to watch. It’s been an amazing learning process for me. When it’s something that’s going to change your life forever, it’s pretty cool.”


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