It’s a love born out of heartbreak between a fleet-footed young thoroughbred colt and a 10-year-old clompy.
Clydesdale horse, Donnybrook Lucinda, is an unexpected sight in the paddock of Waikato thoroughbred horse stud Windsor Park.
But she’s there for a much-needed purpose. To be a new mum to throughbred colt Rory, whose own mum died after giving birth to him.
The clydesdale, originally from Scotland, and are a breed of draught horse which were used to work on farms, hauling carts of logs, coal and the likes.
They generally range in size from 162 to 183 cm and can weigh close to a tonne.
But size doesn’t matter in this tale of love.
Lucinda, or Lucy as she’s known, has the nurturing gene in spades, so much so when she gave birth to a still born at the end of October, she was put up to be a foster mother by her owners Nick and Jill van der Sande.
“She's worked for us at Pirongia Clydesdales for a very long time, we originally broke her in, and she’s always been a good worker and always very gentle, kind mare,” Nick van der Sande said.
“She’s had a couple of foals before but unfortunately this season her foal was born dead. So we put the word out that we have this mare in milk that could be a foster because I know she’s very maternal.”
That is when Windsor Park responded and said they were in need of a foster mare for one of their colts.
“It’s really good and it makes me so happy something good has come out of the initial misfortune.”
van der Sande said it wouldn’t matter what breed of horse required Lucy’s milk
“She’s a terrific milker, she’s like a cow.”
Windsor Park, on Kaipaki Road, are thoroughbred specialists, but one of their good mares. Let Me Roar, died after giving birth to Rory on October 19, 2020.
A call to the New Zealand Foster service confirmed a horse was available, but told foal handler Florence Gore that it was a clydesdale.
“So she is slightly bigger than the rest of the horses we get here.”
Rory was in a stable on his own and staff were bottle feeding him to supplement him until Lucy arrived.
“We slowly introduced him, we started face-to-face.
“For something that can take from one hour to a couple of days she was into it straight away.”
Gore said it was quite possibly the easiest foster they’ve done.
“We stood out there with them and after about 20 minutes he had a nurse off her, and she didn’t make a fuss.
“I think she was so happy to have a baby, and he was so happy to have a mum.”
She said the pair have got on absolutely brilliantly.
“He thinks it’s great he’s got the biggest milk bar on the farm.
“He’s absolutely thrived with her. I don’t think he understands it’s not his mummy and she doesn’t look the same as all the other ones.”
Gore believes it is important to use a foster mare should the need arise and knows that Rory has thrived having Lucy.
“If you are trying to hand raise a foal I don’t think they get the same moment in the paddock and nutrients from the mare’s milk. I just don’t think you can compare.”
Rory is expected to be one of Windsor’s top picks at next year’s yearling sales, and Lucy has the opportunity to be a mum again, as she’s in foal to one of Windsor’s thoroughbred stallions.