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Foal saved from watery demise

Last updated 12:17 19/11/2012
Verity Jones
CLOSE CALL: Twelve-year-old Verity Jones with the foal.

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A foal less than five hours old was close to drowning when it was rescued thanks to a 12-year-old girl in Blenheim last week.

Bohally Intermediate pupil Verity Jones thought she was dreaming after she woke to the sound of banging outside her home in Springlands about 3am on Monday.

She peered out of her bedroom window into the darkness and could make out the shape of a small horse.

"I thought, ‘am I dreaming?'," she said.

"It looked like a fully grown horse at three o'clock in the morning."

She thought the horse must have wandered over from a paddock off Brook St close to her home.

Her mother, who initially thought the noise was made by possums, phoned the 24-hour Marlborough District Council number, who called animal control.

But the foal disappeared. She and her mother waited for animal control to arrive so they wouldn't spook it.

"It was quite frightened," Verity said. "We could hear it down by the river bank behind our property, whinnying and banging around."

Animal control officer Peter Murphy arrived with a friend just before 4am.

The pair searched the area but couldn't find the foal.

They heard a faint splash down by the river behind the property, which led them to Doctors Creek.

They found the foal struggling in the water.

"It must have stumbled over the stopbank and then rolled down into the stream," Mr Murphy said. "When we saw her, she was tangled up in some branches, trying to get out. She'd been completely submerged."

He and his friend jumped in and cradled the foal out. She was freezing cold, so coats, towels and blankets were fetched to keep her warm.

"She looked hypothermic; the inside of her mouth and tongue were freezing," Mr Murphy said.

After waiting almost two hours for it to get light, the pair carried the foal across the creek. "It was pretty awkward, she was all gangly and frightened," Mr Murphy said.

Vets on Alabama was called and veterinarian Nick Hansby arrived about 6.30am. After checking the foal's vital signs, he told Mr Murphy it would not have survived if it hadn't been taken out of the river when it was.

The foal was reunited with its mother after it had been checked out.

"It was a bit of a melting moment, the way the mother accepted her straight away," Mr Murphy said.

Foal owner Angel Johnston, who keeps horses in the paddock on Brook St, said she knew her six-year-old horse Mystique was due to foal, but thought it wasn't due for another month.

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She felt quite sick when she got the call from Mr Hansby on Monday morning, she said.

Mother and foal, aptly named River Queen, were in the paddock when she arrived.

"Mum was walking around the paddock encouraging her to eat and eventually it paid off," she said.

"She took to her straight away, she's an amazing mum."

- The Marlborough Express

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