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Social services in pre-dawn raid over baby horse mix-up

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11:51 CEST+02:00
The birth of a foal at a farm in northern Sweden caused confusion on Saturday when social services were called in to investigate reports of an unregistered baby.

The foal was born to a young mare at Linda West's stud farm in Ansmark near Umeå in the north of Sweden in the early hours of Friday morning.

"It was our first birth and we were extra nervous because the mother was so young - in human terms a 14-year-old," Linda West told The Local on Tuesday.

West explained there was a risk that such a young mother would prove ill-equipped to deal with becoming a parent at such a tender age. The rookie breeder confirmed to The Local that their fears proved well-founded.

"She was in shock and pushed the young foal against the side of the stable. We called a vet and were told to put her on the bottle - the first milk is very important to a young horse as they are born without an immune defence," she said.

But as the birth had occurred in the early hours of the morning Linda West and her daughter found themselves caught without a nursing bottle in their time of need and despatched a elderly neighbour into nearby Umeå to track down the item.

"In other countries you might find a pharmacy open at night, but not in Umeå," West said.

The helpful neighbour then proceeded to comb the streets of the northern Swedish town in search of a bottle, a search which took him to the emergency ward at Umeå hospital.

"He did not want to say that it was a foal because he didn't think that they would help him and said only that a girl had been born. They did not help him anyway and he was eventually able to track down a bottle at a petrol station - by then we had found one at the farm," Linda West said.

But the story did not end there as at around 3am on Saturday morning Linda West and her workers spotted an unfamiliar car parked with its lights out in the driveway.

"At 3am on a Saturday you are not exactly overjoyed to see a strange car parked at the entrance to your property. So we approached the car cautiously armed only with the bottle to defend ourselves," she said.

But the car contained only a couple of "officious-looking stately women" who presented themselves as being from the social services.

"They told us that they had been informed that a child had been born at the property and that as it was not on any register they were investigating the matter," West said.

After explaining that, yes, a birth had occurred at the farm that night, but that it was not of the human kind, all of those present saw the funny side of the misunderstanding.

"But as they were obliged to complete and file their report we took them to see the foal with her young mother and they were able to conclude that it had four legs and weighed in at around 50 kilogrammes," she said.

The foal is now reported to be faring well and her young mother has come to terms with the step into parenthood and is nursing her offspring.

"She is now registered, but not at the prenatal clinic," Linda West joked.

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