When Vicki Chiverton bought a mare at the beginning of the year with the aim of doing the Wobbleberry Challenge, she got a little more than she bargained for, says Jo Prestwich

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You’ve bought your new horse and thoughts move to the future. Schooling, long hacks and the upcoming show calendar are all in the mix and the world looks wonderful.

And then the doubt begins to set in — that mare, she’s just beginning to carry a bit of extra weight isn’t she? In fact, she’s looking positively fat, or I should say pear shaped… She couldn’t be pregnant, could she?

Some ring the vet, others take to social media; either way, for the majority, it’s a case of wondering what we do now, because, let’s face it, few of us have practical midwifery skills.

Vicki and Polly Chiverton have just gone through the whole drama with Vicki’s mare Fran. Vicki bought Fran in January to do the Wobbleberry Challenge but four weeks ago, whilst Vicki was away on holiday, Polly’s suspicions were aroused.

“I went over to ride her for mum, got her in, tied her up, looked at her and thought this is not a shape I’m familiar with, she’s either in-foal or there’s something very wrong,” says Polly. “I got the vet who took bloods to test but as I was still very short of useful knowledge I rang a breeder down the road who came up and said he reckoned she was two-and-a-half weeks off foaling — he was bob on!”

The mare was out 24/7 so that routine was adhered to. The night before she foaled the mare, certainly to the untrained eye, looked no different to usual and Vicki arrived the following morning to see a fine bay colt in the field.

“The local breeder came up to have a quick check of her but unfortunately in the excitement of seeing the new arrival no one noticed what the dogs were up to and by the time he arrived and went to check the afterbirth, they had quite a bit of it for breakfast!”

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The downside? Well there’s certainly not going to be a Wobbleberry Challenge this year, but the upside is that ‘Dude’s Legacy’ is bred for the job.

After a bit of detective work it turned out his Hanoverian/thoroughbred mum was covered by a grandson of Seeking The Gold. The three-year-old colt had unintentionally got in with the mares but Fran was tested not in foal.

“If they’d realised they wouldn’t have sold her, but it’s great because he can be my next eventer,” says Polly.

Don’t miss the full feature about mares who arrive with an unexpected extra on board in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (31 August 2017)