A couple of months ago, three mares arrived here at Paccombe Farm and joined our group of expectant mums. We knew they had been relinquished to The Donkey Sanctuary, we knew they were all in foal, and we knew they were very much in need of some TLC, but that was about it.
When they arrived they were all very thin and nervous. One mare, Jubilee, who was nearest to foaling, was doing her best to avoid us or even kick out at us if we got too near. We felt as if we were against the clock - our vets thought we had a few weeks before the foal would arrive and they were right.
In the lead up to foaling, we had to start with trying to gain Jubilee’s trust. If we had to intervene during the foaling or once the foal was born, we would need her to be calm and relaxed around us and allow us to help her. We started by taking it slow, and just standing as near as we could and rewarding any bravery with a treat. At that point, Jubilee wouldn’t go near the stable let alone a head collar. We all persevered, and within six weeks Jubilee went from avoiding human contact to insisting on a wither or back scratch every time we walked by.
The closer she got to foaling, the more laid back she became. It really showed how amazing donkeys are, she had learnt to trust us in such a short time.
As Jubilee got closer to the day she would be foaling, we started watching her through the night and at 7am one morning a little nose started to show. It was so exciting! Farm Manager Neil, the children and I (who all live on site) were all there, and the rest of Paccombe Farm team started to arrive at work. Jubilee was happy for a few of us to watch, and even allowed Neil to give her a bit of help. What a long way she had come. We were all tearful and hugging each other, it was truly amazing. Little ‘Johnny’ was here.
Johnny was quite a large foal and dear Jubilee looked very surprised to begin with. Nature worked its magic and they bonded straight away. Now, three weeks on, she is a wonderful mother and he is a cheeky little chap and we are all completely smitten.
Paccombe’s ‘maternity ward’ is well underway - if you haven’t already heard the news, Maddy has also had her foal, who has been named Precious.
We’d love to tell you all about our experiences looking after these little ones - so stay tuned for the next Paccombe Farm update!
Blog by Lisa Coles