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Mother's love saves Dartmoor foal from lonely death

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

  • The Dartmoor pony mare leads her foal off the moor. She died the next day of an unknown illness

  • Charlotte Faulkner with the Dartmoor filly foal whose dying mother guided her to safety. Pictures: Richard Austin

  • The emaciated mare is believed to have travelled for five days across Dartmoor

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A new born foal has survived after her dying mother walked across Dartmoor for five days to deliver her to safety.

In what can only be described as an incredible feat of maternal devotion, the emaciated mare led the foal to the home of her owner Lorraine Chambers before dying less than 24 hours later.

The Dartmoor pony mare almost certainly knew that she was dying when she guided the foal to Foxworthy Farm on Dartmoor.

The bittersweet story highlights the rare occurrence in the world of wildlife when an animal turns to human beings when they are in peril. Indeed, the mare knew that if she died on the rugged hills of the moor then her foal, which was totally dependent on her milk, would almost certainly have died with her.

Now the orphaned foal is being hand-reared by neighbour Charlotte Faulkner of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association, who said yesterday that it was a remarkable story and the foal is alive today because of the instincts of her mother.

“Both mare and foal would have been out there on the moor for the whole summer and would have been brought off the moor in the annual round-up in October,” she said. “She must have known what would have happened to her foal if she had died so she brought her in.”

Now as a tribute to the courage shown by the foal’s mother Charlotte is giving the young filly her undivided attention.

“She has her own little paddock at the moment and has a friend in another foal close by,” she said. “But if she gets a little lonely she cries out for my attention just like any other young toddler.”

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  • cavaline  |  September 05 2012, 12:01PM

    What a lovely account of animal instinctive behaviour - but could someone explain how it is that whoever owns these ponies is unable to monitor their health and welfare on a more regular basis whilst young foals are in their 1st year? From a saddle or drivers seat with a good pair of binoculars, perhaps? The mare must have been suffering quite a while for her to have been so far gone to be emaciated to the extent of dying the next day. Does any person or organisation have any REAL power to bring pressure to bear on owners?

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