Ten days after tens of thousands of people tuned in to watch a foal’s birth live, the history-making horse has a name.
The colt, born on March 29th at the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will be known as the New Bolton Pioneer, or Boone for short, after the moniker received 874 of the 2,968 votes cast in the week-long naming contest.
“This colt is truly a pioneer for New Bolton Center,” said Dr. Rose Nolen-Walston, a New Bolton Center assistant professor, who will adopt the foal. “And in the spirit of Daniel Boone, he personifies everything we’re striving for at Penn Vet.”
Nolen-Walston came up with eight names, including Stellar, Scoop, True, Tip-Top, Scope and Signal, prior to the birth. Boone was the clear winner with 324 more votes than second-place Zeno.
Boone represents the first time an advanced reproductive technique, intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, resulted in a successful pregnancy in the Delaware Valley. The procedure, which the school will work to replicate, involved injecting a single sperm into a mature egg, then transferring the embryo to the surrogate, My Special Girl.
A Thoroughbred-Cleveland Bay cross mare provided the egg and a long-deceased Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse cross stallion provided the sperm, giving Boone an athletic lineage.
Nolen-Walston, who will bring Boone home to her farm once he is weaned around 6-months old, plans to have him compete in eventing when he is ready to begin his athletic career.
The sport combines dressage, show jumping and a cross-country competition.
Lisa Fergusson, a former member of Canada’s Olympic Eventing team, will train Boone, who will be referred to by his “show name” – New Bolton Pioneer – during competitions.
For now, the 132-pound horse is heading to the Hofmann Center for Reproduction at the New Bolton Center, where he will be confined to a stall until the four ribs that were broken during his birth heal. Broken ribs often occur in newborn horses and Boone has remained in the NICU to ensure his bones have mended before his transfer to the Hofmann Center.
Doctors are also monitoring Boone’s heart after they detected a murmur, a condition found in 80 percent of foals during their first month of life.
“We will be following Boone’s heart murmur carefully during his first month to be sure it is harmless,” said Dr. Jonathan Palmer, chief of the New Bolton Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Service. “If it doesn’t fade and disappear we will do a complete heart examination, including ultrasound imaging of his heart.”
Penn Vet is also moving My Special Girl, who is a teaching animal, to the Hofmann Center.
“Her main role in life is to allow our fourth-year veterinary students to learn how to examine a mare’s reproductive tract and to learn how to manage equine breeding,” said Dr. Regina Turner, an associate professor of large animal reproduction at the Hofmann Center.
Despite the lengthy pregnancy – Boone arrived 15 days after the due date – My Special Girl is also in good health.
Three days after the challenging 22-minute birth, the mare went back to work so students could conduct postpartum exams.
More than 170,00 people in 120 countries checked in on My Special Girl's pregnancy during the five weeks of the foal cam's live broadcast. Even though the live feed drew lots of eyeballs, Penn Vet has yet to decide if it will air future births.