The birth of a foal is a magical experience for any horse breeder. But for two Alberta owners, it became a case of tragedy that quickly turned happier ending.

First, the mare: Iris is a Thoroughbred, with a unique sabino colour pattern who gave birth to stillborn twin foals near Sylvan Lake. According to an interview in a local news outlet,  owner Debbie McGauran said that due to the foals sharing the same placenta, the ultrasounds showed only one fetus. When Iris gave birth to a stillborn foal, the veterinarian and McGauran were shocked when she continued to be in labour, producing a second stillborn foal. It was a sad occasion for everyone, but especially for the mare who continued to lick one of the dead foals and try to get it to stand to nurse.

Mares can suffer from depression after losing a baby and McGauran wanted to alleviate Iris’s suffering, so she took to social media, searching the various Facebook groups and pages devoted to pairing orphaned foals with potential nurse mares. As fate would have it, two hours away in the Alberta hamlet of Blackie, Rick Praud had a foal whose dam passed away during delivery. He had already tried one surrogate, but the mare had rejected the filly, named Rath De ‘Ort. Praud had been bottle feeding the filly but decided to try one more time to find a new mother for Rath and decided to ship the foal to meet Iris.

The connection between Iris and Rath was immediate. The initial encounter was filmed and posted to Facebook where the heartwarming video shows Iris nuzzling the filly, then allowing Rath to nurse. A tale of two tragic losses ended in a happy story for mare and foal, and two devoted horse owners.