Orphaned foal has lucky start to life
What shall we call our little miracle?ROBIN RAYMOND
A newborn Marlborough foal is lucky to be alive after it nearly died from an unusual injury that killed its mother.
Blenheim show horse breeder Murray Wilson is hand-rearing the foal after its mother died after giving birth to it on Tuesday morning.
Mr Wilson moved back to Blenheim from Omarama in Otago three weeks ago with his pregnant mare Montana and seven other horses.
On Tuesday morning about 6am he saw that Montana, a Clydesdale-cross mare, had given birth. But the mare was sick and struggling.
Vet David Sim treated Montana, but by 3pm she had died. Unsure how she had died he asked to do an autopsy and found the lining of the mare's gut had burst, possibly from a kick from the foal.
Though mourning the loss of his much-loved mare, who had won show-jumping titles in Marlborough, Mr Wilson was celebrating the survival of her foal.
"It's an absolute miracle that the foal lived," he said. "David Sim said by right it shouldn't have lived; she should have died with the foal inside her. He said he'd never seen anything like that before. You could breed another 20 or 50 horses and it would never happen again."
With no surrogate mother available Mr Wilson is having to hand-feed the foal with warm milk every two hours, day and night, holding his hand in the milk for the foal to suckle off one of his fingers like a teat.
Fortunately she has taken to drinking quickly, and in two weeks she will be able to begin eating more solid food. However, it will take six months before he will be able to completely stop hand-feeding her.
In the meantime she was healthy and doing very well, thanks in part to her mother, who had kept calling to her and feeding her even while in pain and dying, giving her vital milk.
"She's a huge foal; she's probably going to be around 17 hands. She's perfectly healthy; she just wants to run around."
The next step will be to find the lucky foal a name. Mr Wilson said family were brainstorming ideas.
- The Marlborough Express