Mare and Foal Sanctuary: A Christmas full of love for orphan foal Icon

M&FS Ice and Icon enjoying time together

A Christmas full of love for orphan foal Icon

Equestrian News :: Everything Horse :: Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is planning a very special Christmas for horses and ponies like Icon who’s neglected dam was sadly put to sleep.

Icon lying down in his stable
Icon in his stable

Mare Ice was taken in by the Devon-based equine rescue charity earlier this year and it was immediately apparent she was struggling with lameness and arthritis. Blood tests revealed she was fighting numerous infections and her liver was failing.   Watch the video below to see how a sad story with a wonderful ending unfolds.

Please note you may find some footage distressing.

She had been part of a large multi-agency rescue, led by the RSPCA who went on to prosecute the elderly owner for allowing more than 70 horses and ponies to breed indiscriminately.

Ice was 27 years old when she arrived at the Sanctuary with her foal at foot. Her poor condition perfectly illustrated the hard life she had endured, despite her sweet and gentle nature.

Ice and Icon standing together
Ice and Icon enjoying peaceful time together

Sanctuary Director of Equine and Equine Research, Syra Bowden, said:

It was a really difficult decision to have to face. We knew the best thing for Icon was to have his mum around for as long as possible.

But we couldn’t do that at the expense of Ice’s wellbeing. She was too old to be having a foal and she had not been receiving the right nutrients or care through her pregnancy.

When she arrived at the Sanctuary, we knew she was lame, but we wanted to find out the extent of her issues. We gave her pain killers, supplements and several blood tests before devising a care plan with our vet.

Her condition and behaviour were closely monitored. She was a great mum and we gave her the best care she had ever had in those last few weeks.”

The Sanctuary’s vet Richard Frost was constantly assessing her condition and made sure Ice was comfortable and pain free – giving Icon vital time with her.

It was also noted that any changes in her condition – no matter how small – would begin an immediate reassessment of her care.

Ice and Icon spent the summer in one of the charity’s beautiful paddocks, bonding and enjoying a level of care and kindness they had never experienced before. But as Icon grew Ice’s condition began to deteriorate and the decision was taken to put her to sleep, on a sunny day with a pre-planned sequence of events designed to cause as little distress as possible.

As soon as it was over Icon was able to see his mother’s body, sniff her and grieve in his own time to allow a level of acceptance. He was given as much time as he needed with her body before being allowed to join a small herd of colts who had been placed in the neighbouring field – and before long he was galloping around, making new friends.

Mare and Foal Sanctuary: Icon (middle) with new herd mates (L2R) Ovie and Tinkerman
Mare and Foal Sanctuary: Icon (middle) with new herd mates (L2R) Ovie and Tinkerman

And he has proved to be an extremely forward, independent and laid-back young colt, who has become a firm favourite with the Sanctuary’s grooms. Groom Leah Brock said he was happy growing up with his new herd mates Ovie and Tinkerman.

He’s so calm and easy to be around,”

she said.

And watching him playing with his new friends is great to see. He really seems to enjoy everything he does.

He’s going to love his first Christmas. We normally give them loads of cuddles and there are always extra carrots.”

Mare’s and foals at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary Newton Abbot Devon
Richard Austin
Tel: 07831 566005

To find out more about the work of the Mare and Foal Sanctuary across the South West, which relies entirely on donations and legacy gifts, and to see the horses and ponies currently available for rehoming, visit the charity’s website at or call 01626 355969.

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