We have not one but two beautiful new arrivals – and the leggy youngsters are thriving.
Little Bay Mason and Palomino Diangelo were born within days of each other last month and they’re proving to be full of the joys of spring.
Both mares had health problems when they arrived but, thanks to the dedication of the charity’s grooms, they both gave birth to healthy – and very lively – young colts.
Senior Director of Equine Syra Bowden said: “It’s been a while since we had two foals arrive at almost the same time. It’s so lovely to be able to welcome them to their new home.
“The mares had a tough time and the last few days of pregnancy are always nerve wracking because so much can go wrong. We didn’t know how big the foals would be and one of the mares was underweight.
“It’s so great that everything worked as it should and both the mares and colts are doing really well.
“And it’s a great feeling to be able to help a vulnerable mare and welcome something new – and so beautiful – into the world.”
Because one of the mares was underweight an equine nutritionist was called to ensure the Sanctuary provided the best support for her, and her foal.
The charity has its own foaling stables, which are twice the size of normal stables, and the mares were closely monitored 24 hours a day.
Special infrared CCTV cameras were placed around the stable block so they could be watched without interference.
And Sanctuary staff took it in turns to sleep in an adjacent room, setting their alarms at regular intervals to check the monitors.
Once foaling begins, it is the groom’s job to monitor closely and call the vet if something begins to go wrong.
A heavily pregnant mare needs to be kept calm and stress free to feel safe. They normally foal in the quiet, early hours of the morning.
And once born the foaling stables have to be kept scrupulously clean as new born foals are vulnerable and can be at risk of infection.
The highest energy demands on the mares are during the last third of their pregnancy and the first three months of the foals’ life so a close eye is kept on them to make sure they are getting all the food they need.
Amazingly, the foals are let out into the field and are up and running within the first day – just like in the wild.
As a prey species they need to keep up with the herd and have evolved to be standing and able to move within a few short hours of birth. It also helps to start build muscle.
Diangelo and Mason will not be weaned until they are about six months-old when the Sanctuary begins the slow and gentle process of helping the foals go solo.
Head of Equine Sally Burton said: “It’s important the foals are out in the field as soon as possible so they can watch other horses and learn from them for their social, as well as physical development.
“When we begin the weaning process we gradually allow the foals to spend more and more time away from their dams.
“They are usually stabled next to each other as stressful weaning methods can lead to problems later in life. We try to wean our foals carefully and as calmly as we can.
“After that they join one of our many herds to grow up and learn to be a horse, with gentle training going on all the time. Horses’ bones have to be fully developed before they can be ridden, which takes up to about five years.”
Once the foals have been weaned and completed their basic training, they’ll be ready start the next phase of their lives – on loan with a new and loving family.
We’ll be keeping you all posted on their progress…