HEARTBREAK turned into a feel-good story over the Easter weekend for the Kingston family from Drimoleague.
They lost their 12-year-old Irish Draught mare Carrigbawn Sunset from post-foaling complications but found an unusual foster mother for her orphan colt in the form of a nanny goat, supplied by Waterford Sport Horses Breeders group member Niamh Creagh.
“I just put her in the back of the car, the dogs were sitting in the front and we went down after milking,” said Niamh, after getting the SOS call from the Kingston’s neighbours, her sister Aoife and brother-in-law Teddy O’Regan.
Nanny goats are occasionally used as foster mothers and school teacher and artist Niamh, who juggles “milking cows by day and painting by night!” has seen 11 other orphan foals raised by her goats.
“Not every goat is going to feed a foal but if you’re stuck, they’re an option. You’d be surprised how much milk a milking breed goat has and the foals will latch on once you get them going before they’re four days old.”
This five-year-old nanny goat, whose own kids are fully-reared, has settled in well with her latest charge. “Niamh was a lifesaver alright. We lost the mare around 5am and as soon as Niamh got the call, she was down straightaway. The foal is doing fine, a real shine on his coat and skipping around the place,” said Sam Kingston, who often showed his father Jim’s Fast Silver mare.
“Carrigbawn Sunset gave us a lot of good times, she won three reserve championships last year at Bantry, Skibbereen and Schull. Funnily enough, the night she died, her daughter Carrigbawn Honey had her first foal, a colt by Munther.”
Carrigbawn Sunset’s foal is from the only sport horse foal crop of the late thoroughbred Fruits Of Love. One name, suggested to the Kingstons for the unnamed colt, is Carrigbawn Jesus “because he was after rising from the ashes at Easter.”
Chances of seeing him in the show ring this summer with his nanny goat are slim. “Not a prayer of that happening!” replied Sam.