05-19-2013, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Shetland Pony Adopts Orphaned Lamb
A Shetland pony forged an unlikely friendship when it adopted an orphaned lamb, even standing watch over her new family member at night.
Despite having a young foal of its own, the mother pony allowed the lamb to feed from it and watched on as the two young animals cuddled up against each other.
The odd couple forged their usual bond in the Black Mountains in Wales, where more than 2,000 sheep and around 60 horses roam.
Horserider and equine vet Georgina Hirst, 29, did a double take when she spotted the pair feeding while out riding on Hay Bluff.
"I was out riding one day and I spotted a baby lamb feeding," she said. "The first time I saw it I couldn't quite believe it - I thought I might be imagining it. But then I saw it again and again over the space of about a week.
"It seemed the Shetland mare had adopted the orphaned lamb and was letting it feed from her. Shetlands are not normally so amenable.
"The lamb was obviously hungry and it's quite amazing that it learnt to suckle from the mare. It might have just copied the foal."
The vet, from Hay on the Wye, Powys, added: "Trying to get mares to adopt foals can be very challenging so it's incredible the mare was so receptive of the lamb.
"She would even stand guard while the foal and the lamb slept cuddled together."
Despite the developing friendship, Ms Hirst decided to step in when it became apparent both the lamb and the pony's foal were not getting enough food.
Thankfully the lamb had an identity mark on it and she was able to track down the farmer.
"After a while it became pretty clear that the deal wasn't really working," said Ms HIrst.
"Both the lamb and the foal weren't looking as healthy as they should be due to a lack of food. The mare simply wasn't producing enough milk to feed the both of them.
"In the end we decided to flag up the problem to the farmer who took the lamb off the bluff to be bottle fed."