Baby On Board
Would you take an orphaned Clydesdale on your long service leave camping trip? John and Anita Heath of Victoria did and it proved to be an experience of a life time for all three!
John and Anita Heath from Maffra, Victoria were on long service leave in September last year and spent some time in Wagga Wagga with Fred and Gloria Brosso from Volo Lodge Clydesdale Stud. On the 23rd of September 2013 ‘THEIR’ beautiful foal was born, but sadly was an orphan by 24th Sept.
Having become involved with the Clydesdale breed in 2013 and having reared copious numbers of calves over the years they thought “how hard can it be to rear a foal”? While finding it an incredibly rewarding experience they now know how wrong they were in their assumptions.
With an orphan foal that required feeding every few hours John and Anita decided to return home to Maffra to care for the ‘baby’ .
However, they still had long service leave left and there were a few more camping trips they wished to do. As Sissy, the Clydesdale foal, was thriving on the bottle feeding routine, they decided to take her with them on their camping trip. The float was hooked up to the car and it was decked out as a comfortable stable for the ‘baby’. This became her ‘safe place’ regardless of where it was parked or who was around, and she definitely associated John and Anita as her ‘parents’.
Sissy would just be allowed to roam free as camp was being set up and many concerned people asked if they needed a hand to catch their foal. But there was no need, as the filly would come charging back when called or, if she was startled or frightened, would run to John or Anita or head for the float.
Upon returning home the Heath’s kindly Quarter Horse gelding (Rocky) took on the role of ‘MR MUM’, ever attentive to Sissy’s welfare. In addition to the daily routine of looking after ‘his’ baby Rocky also attended the SALE Agricultural Show as the reassuring ‘dam’, with Sissy taking off a second in the foal class.
It would fill a book if John and Anita were to relate all the funny and exciting experiences they have shared with Sissy on their travels and once settled back home at Maffra.
Now five months old the filly is weaned on to pasture and powdered milk mixed in with hard food supplements but the most difficult task for the Heaths was for them to forego all the cuddles a ‘parent’ instinctively wants to share but they have done this to allow Sissy to develop as a ‘HORSE’ , as nature intended, although not many Clydesdale foals can boast of such a well travelled early ‘foalhood’ and such caring ‘parents’.
EARLY DAYS WITH MY 'BIRTH' MUM