The birth of a shire foal in north Cornwall has caused widespread delight, not least because fewer than 300 of the breed are expected to be born in the UK this year.
The female foal who is yet to be named, was born at Crealy Great Adventure Park, near Wadebridge. The park is already home to ten shire horses including the new foal’s mother, Orla, and her grandmother, Annie. Shire horses in the UK are classed as ‘at risk’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Staff at Crealy had been keeping a close eye on Orla in the run-up to the birth, with animal realm manager Steve Masters staying overnight for two weeks prior to the birth.
“She was bang on her due date and that’s quite unusual,” says Steve, who was there throughout the labour. “Within an hour [the foal] was pretty much walking like a foal should be, which is very impressive. Orla is a brilliant Mum, she just turned around and started licking her foal, it was fantastic.”
The foals at Crealy, which has a history of breeding shire horses as part of its endangered species protection project, are named with consecutive letters of the alphabet each year. This year, the foal will be called a name beginning with ‘S’ and visitors to Crealy are invited to suggest names at the stables on site. The winner will receive an annual pass to Cornwall’s Crealy.