In 2014 we were lucky enough to be given the oppertunity to be a part of something very special. Very sadly Moss Side Holly Dhu gave birth to a still born foal, she was absolutely distraught and so with her wonderful temprement we decided to offer her as a surragate dam. Shane Church sadly lost his precious section A mare who had given birth to a beautiful filly and at the same time was looking for a mare to rear her on. Although we couldnt find anything through the foaling bank, we managed to find each other through facebook and so Shane loaded her up and travelelled the long journey to 'see if we could do this'.
When 'Tali' arrived Holly was in a seperate box to where she lost her foal. In the meantime the hunt had come and removed the skin from her dead foal and taken her foal away. The skin was tied across 'Talis' back and legs and then she was introduced slowly to Holly. The reason for using the skin is that the mare will reject a foal that does not smell as her own, so until the foal passes dung that smells of the mares milk, we have to 'trick' her into thinking the baby is hers. We also rubbed the foal down with straw mixed with hollys scent to help mask the areas not covered by skin.
The skin was very slowly moved back until it could be completely removed. This process took several days of us sleeping down in the stable with them and helping the foal to feed every hour. We had to stay with them, as if holly had got wise, she very likely would have killed the foal.
We had a few 'hairy' moments and also some funny ones, particularly when we dosed off, Tali would run in and rummage through our sleeping bags stealing what she could and giving us a fright!! The most amazing feeling was letting them have a test run in the sand arena two days later, we were down and exhausted and not sure if it had definately worked, they trotted off, one large black highland mum and her little welsh section A foal as if they were meant to be. It was amazing. From that moment we didnt look back, they spent another two days being turned out in the school to be sure and then moved down to the nursery with the other mares and foals until weaning time when she went home.
If i was given the oppertunity to ever do this again then i would jump at the change, we had lack of sleep, sweat and tears but my god it was one hell of a rewarding experience and out of it we have made some amazing friends in Shane and Lynda and will always be watching Talis news. The highland temprement is a wonderful one, i really do feel privalaged to be involved with such a amazing breed,
Kate (Talisker Stud)
Tali with the skin of Hollys deceased foal
The skin slowly gets moved up as Holly grows used to the smell of the orphan foal
The kids camped with us down the yard to give us a hand, they loved the experience
Tali would sneak in and rummage through our sleeping bags
The first day of acceptance and a 'test run' in the school out together
Everything going well
Josh and Tali
The most amazing feeling is seeing this after all your hard work and dedication