Sprinter is our 26 year old, 36” Shetland pony, who is currently on his second tour of duty bringing up an orphan warm blood foal.
He first did his three years ago, when our Brood Mare, Zomer, died from colic when her colt foal, Gizmo, was only three days old. Gizmo turned out just fine and is now a beautiful three year old currently being broken by my daughter Leandra.
When my good friend, Pat, phoned me a few weeks ago to tell me she too had just lost a brood mare, leaving a six week old orphan, I immediately offered her Sprinter to be the substitute mum. They had discussed various options with their vets as to the best way to bring up this baby, i.e. a surrogate dam, hand rearing, early weaning of another foal, etc. so Pat, remembering we had had a similar experience phoned me for advise & although a little hesitant at first, she quickly warmed to the idea & we soon found ourselves delivering Sprinter to her Sports Horse Centre.
As the foal was still at the vets, were his dam had been taken for emergency unsuccessful colic surgery. I suggest it would probably be best if they took Sprinter there, introduced him to the baby and then travelled the two back together loose in a trailer, the journey being an ideal bonding experience. The foal, thanks to the vets, had quickly learned to bucket feed but was showing signs of depression. They hoped returning to his home and perhaps seeing his former play mates might help to rally him. Pat phoned them to say she was on her way to collect him complete with a little white Shetland. Her vets, too were a little worried at first, as they were from a different practise to our own vets and had not witnessed how this gentle little pony had been with our own baby. They warned he might be a bit rough with the traumatised youngster & advised careful monitoring. However the first meeting was magical, as the taller but light weight gangly foal, met, for the first time, the solid white Shetland pony. They immediately started scratching each other and the bond was formed. The protective team of onlookers, positioned to step in & intervene, quickly relaxed & instead wiped emotional tears from their eyes at this joining.
After leaving the two together for half an hour, Pat led Sprinter out of the foals stable and into the trailer with the foal following without a moment’s hesitation…….. Please follow their progress as I update how these two get on over the next few weeks.
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