Sanctuary staff prepare to make foal’s first Christmas special

Solar pictured last month. Picture: Mare and Foal Sanctuary
Solar pictured in November at the age of five months. Picture: Mare and Foal Sanctuary

A youngster’s first Christmas is always special and a British charity will be making sure that six-month-old Solar gets extra treats and lots of cuddles.

Solar was born at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary earlier this year. His mum, Sandy, was heavily pregnant with nowhere else to go. She needed a home after her owners lost their grazing. Luckily, the Mare and Foal Sanctuary was able to offer Sandy a safe place to have her foal with access to vet care should she need it.

Normally a horse or pony would show signs that she was about to foal, but Solar was born unexpectedly one warm night in the middle of June. Reflecting back on the day, Solar’s groom said: “He was a bright young foal and Sandy was an excellent mum from the start. She looked after him and made sure she was between us and him. They were both checked over by the vet and there were no concerns.”

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is expert at helping all horses and ponies but is particularly experienced at supporting pregnant mothers and their foals. The sanctuary has four sites across Devon, including a dedicated vet facility at the Newton Abbot site where Solar was born. Together with a huge number of carers who look after horses and ponies at their own homes and stables, the sanctuary provides lifelong care to more than 600 horses and ponies.

In the New Year, Solar’s handlers will start looking at gradually weaning him and developing his training. Like many foals, Solar has needed a little help learning the ropes. As Anna Haines, the sanctuary’s Equine Behaviourist, said, if foals get too much attention when they are showing unwanted behaviour such as nibbling at clothes, “it can quickly escalate into something more serious like biting”.

“This is why we step in early to prevent something like that from happening.”

Thankfully, Solar has a hardworking and knowledgeable team around him to help him to develop into a fantastic young horse. He is often seen playing with his friends in the field and enjoying life at the sanctuary.

Solar at one day old. Picture: Sally Burton / Mare and Foal Sanctuary
Solar at one day old. Picture: Sally Burton / Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has four sanctuaries and five charity shops in the South West. Its patrons are John Nettles and Angela Rippon.

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary relies entirely on donations and legacy gifts. This Christmas, it is raising money to make sure other pregnant horses in need can have a safe place to foal.

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