Grooms at the Sanctuary had a welcome surprise upon their arrival to work this week when rescue pony Sandy unexpectedly gave birth to a healthy colt foal. Named Solar, he’s the first foal to be born here this year. We rescued Sandy just two weeks ago when the owner lost their grazing at short notice.  The moorland pony was pregnant, so an emergency intervention was taken by our Welfare and Outreach team  – bringing her to our veterinary and welfare centre where the team specialise in the care of mares in foal, as well as orphaned or abandoned foals. 

We had no history of when Sandy was with the stallion so had no due date to work with for Solar’s expected arrival.  A veterinary examination showed she might foal in approximately four weeks as there were no visual signs of an imminent birth.    

Sandy was given access to an outdoor shelter and paddock to mimic the home she’d just come from in order to minimise stress. Staff were checking on her regularly but they hadn’t yet moved into what they call ‘foal watch’, whereby a member of staff sleeps onsite and monitors the mare every two hours.

In the early hours of Wednesday 16 June, Sandy decided to bring Solar into the world by herself in her paddock.   By the time staff arrived for the early shift, little Solar was up and about, and suckling well from his dam. Sally Burton, Head of Sanctuary Care, said: “Sandy is an excellent dam and her colt is healthy and strong.  We had been fully geared up for our foal watch, but Sandy had other plans!  

Solar on his birth day
Solar one day old with mother
“This does happen from time to time and particularly in the wild horses and ponies will move away from the main herd to give birth in a quiet place where they feel safe.  Usually, a pregnant mare’s visual signs that she’s going to foal include filling of the udders, relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic area, waxing and restlessness, but Sandy was keeping all of these to herself and now Solar is here.”  

Solar has inherited some of his mother’s sand-like colourings and has four white socks and a white flash on his head.  All at the Sanctuary are delighted with the news of his safe arrival, although now the hard work begins as lifelong care must now be provided to both Sandy and Solar.