It is a phone number no one wants to have to ring but are glad to have on hand in a time of need.
During the breeding season hopes and dreams are running high so to lose a mare or foal is a confronting reality of the industry, though like all farming sectors there is no time to dwell on the tragedy as foals can deteriorate quickly.
In steps the Foster Foal service, a national system that links orphaned foals with mares who have recently lost their offspring, ensuring that foals get the best possible start to life while mares get to put their maternal instincts to use.
Run in the North Island by Roy and Derval Latimer and in the South Island by Anna Miles, the foster foal service has a database which alerts its users when a mare is available or needed.
“It is a classic example of the tight knit thoroughbred community pitching in to help each other,” Trelawney Stud’s Brent Taylor said. “It’s all about the horses and if we can help someone out with a mare we do and we are always extremely grateful to receive a mare when needed.”
Taylor has utilised the foster foal service this year and while the circumstances were heart breaking, he was said there was an element of comfort following a successful fostering.
“Unfortunately this season we lost Jacquetta,” Taylor said. “She was a lovely mare who was just starting to make her mark as a broodmare.
“We sadly found ourselves with a foal in need of a mother and we’ve always found the foster foal service to be very successful. We engaged their services and were lucky enough to get a response with a mare arriving from Elsdon Park.
“The mare and foal bonded really well and are both out in the paddock with others at a similar stage. We set the mare up to be covered, she will visit Ardrossan when she is ready, and will return to Elsdon Park after weaning.
“We’re very grateful for the service, it fills a very important role at a busy time of year and makes those loses a bit easy to deal with.
“New Zealand’s foster foal system is also very affordable compared to other countries and we are lucky to have such an efficient and professional service.
“There are so many success stories that come out of the foster foal service. Their bond in the end is no different to that of a mare and her biological foal and we gain solace in knowing that we have happy and healthy horses out in the paddock at the end of the day.”
Anyone wanting to know more about the foster foal service can contact Roy & Derval Latimer 021 4 A FOAL (423 625) (North Island) or Anna Miles on 021 034 8039 (South Island).
-Amie Best, ,Waikato Branch NZTBA