A foal on P.E.I. is thriving, thanks to the determination of her owner and a mare with milk that showed up just in the nick of time.
The story started two weeks ago on Meridian Farms in Milton, P.E.I., when one of the stable's prize mares had a difficult birth.
"There was nothing we could do and within two and half hours we lost the mare," said Brian Andrew, co-owner of Meridian Farms.
Andrew knew the foal didn't have much time, so he started to give her milk from a baby bottle.
"I became the nurse mom for ten days," he said.
He also posted to Facebook, to see if someone had a mare that could come to the farm and nurse the foal.
'It was a miracle'
That's where Jasmine Bastarache come in.
"I thought this is perfect, this is Tantum's job, this is what she's here for," said Bastarache, who owns Venture Stables in Freetown, P.E.I.
Tantum is a 17-year-old mare who had recently been reunited with Bastarache. She lost ownership of the horse in Nova Scotia more than a decade ago and had been searching for her ever since — before being recently reunited.
"I feel like this is what was supposed to happen," she said.
'We put them in together and they bonded'
Brian Andrew travelled to Venture Stables to pick up Tantum, and then the hard work began.
Andrew continued to feed the foal by hand, with Tantum in the next stall. The mare had some milk from a previous foal, but not enough, so Andrew's veterinarian injected drugs to stimulate milk production. That would take another seven days.
Eventually it was time to introduce the mare and foal. Andrew took a towel soaked in the mare's sweat and rubbed in on the foal.
"We took the foal into the same stall, let the mare sniff the foal and the mare was extremely receptive to that," he explained.
Then he used the baby bottle with milk to lure the foal to the mare's teat. Within five minutes, the foal was nursing on Tantum.
"It was amazing, I thought we might have to do that for hours," said Andrew.
"We put them in together and they bonded."
'A story to tell'
If all goes well, the plan is for Tantum and the foal to be together for at least six months, spending the summer out on the green pastures at Meridian Farms.
"I get a lot of visitors here at this farm and we'll have a story to tell, and a good story," said Andrew.
"It is a good luck amazing story."
And, in a shout-out to P.E.I.'s famous orphan, Andrew has named the foal "Anne with an E", after the main character in Anne of Green Gables.
Bastarache feels a strong connection now to the foal and to Meridian Farms.
"We're family now," she said.
"The whole story is really emotional, that she's able to be back here in my life and not only bring love and joy into my life but also to others."
She can't wait to watch the foal grow and share the story of how her horse and a determined Andrew saved the day.
"If it wasn't for Tantum or for Brian, this little filly wouldn't have a chance to survive," said Bastarache.
"I can't wait to see them out playing in the fields together and when anyone drives by they will be able to see the white horse with her baby."
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