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'Nanny' gelding takes orphan foal under his wing


An Andalusian horse has taken on the surprising role of foster parent to our foal who was orphaned just one month ago.

Foal Rain plays up to gelding Manny in a field © RSPCA

The three-week-old foal named Rain unexpectedly lost his mother, who was rescued from neglect by us, last month after a severe bout of colic. After emergency attempts to pair Rain with another mare failed, the task turned to the stunning Spanish gelding

Nicknamed 'Manny', the 13-year-old Andalusian has previously competed in medium level dressage and at numerous Spanish horse shows, but after his retirement, his gentle nature and passion for foals shone through.

Manny's owner Ali, who lives in Surrey, said:

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.

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!

The pair were gradually introduced to each other through a partition between two stables, following the sudden and tragic death of Rain's mother, Martha on 19 May.

Rain's mother, Martha, was rescued by us in February after she was discovered neglected and suffering in a field, heavily in foal. It was Ali and her family who took on the older mare for us.

Raising Rain

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.

We tried to match little Rain with another mare on our yard, but the connection just wasn't there. The RSPCA also contacted the National Foaling Bank in search of a foster mare but there was no suitable mare available. That’s when we knew we would need Manny’s help.

Not a one trick pony

Rain is not the first foal Manny has taken care of. In fact, the gelding has fostered four orphan foals during the last few years and Rain will undoubtedly not be the last.

Ali added:

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.

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 also 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!

Right now we have more than 750 horses in our care, rescued from lives of neglect, cruelty and abandonment, including a number of youngsters and pregnant mares. If you think you could adopt a horse or be a temporary fosterer for one of the hundreds of horses in need, please look at our rehoming pages to find out more.

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