An Andalusian gelding has taken on the role of “male nanny” to an orphaned RSPCA foal.
Coloured colt Rain lost his mother unexpectedly to a severe colic last month, when he was only three weeks old.
Attempts to pair Rain with another mare failed, and despite contacting the National Foaling Bank, no matches were available.
That was when the Spanish gelding stepped in. After being gradually introduced to Rain through a partition between two stables, the pair bonded.
This is not the first time the 13-year-old has taken on a male nanny role — although he previously competed in medium level dressage, after his retirement, his gentle nature and passion for foals was spotted by his owner Ali.
“Manny is one very special horse. He just seems to have this natural and paternal way with foals, it’s a lovely sight to see,” said Ali, who lives in Surrey.
“He grooms Rain and keeps a constant eye on him, and much like a mare, he intervenes if another horse approaches. In fact the only thing he can’t do for Rain is feed him.
“My family and I hand-feed Rain with a specialist foal milk every two-and-a-half to three hours, but Manny does everything else. He is amazing!”
Rain’s mother Martha was rescued by the RSPCA in February after she was discovered neglected and suffering in a field, heavily in foal. Ali and her family took on the older mare for the charity.
Ali said: “Rain was born on 1 May, a particularly wet and rainy evening, but sadly last weekend Martha developed an extremely severe bout of untreatable colic, and devastatingly, she had to be put to sleep.
“We are still devastated. Martha was a beautiful, loving mare, but very nervous when we first took her in. We worked with her every day and gained her trust.
“It’s terrible Rain lost his Mum at just three weeks old, but I take comfort knowing that we were able to give Martha a loving place to live after she was rescued from such horrible conditions.”
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Rain is just one of the orphan foals that “Manny” has fostered during the past few years and will undoubtedly not be the last.
“Manny’s been a godsend. He really is one of a kind, a very special horse. He just adores foals and his instincts are so strong,” Ali added.
“He and Rain will stay together until Rain is approximately six months old and we can wean him. Until then, they will carry on going out in the field together and going to bed at night in their adjoining stables.
“I have another mare here who is about to have a foal, so I will have no worries about turning all four out together once the foal is born. Rain will have another little foal to play with and I know I can trust Manny completely. In fact, the mare will no doubt soon realise she can take advantage of Manny for some extra child-care!”
The RSPCA currently has more than 750 horses in its care, rescued from lives of neglect, cruelty and abandonment, including a number of youngsters and pregnant mares. If you think you could adopt or be a temporary fosterer for one of the hundreds of horses in need, visit www.rspca.org.uk/homesforhorses to find out more.
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