An Aging Mare, an Orphaned Calf, and Their Unlikely Bond


Moonshine, a mare who lives on a Queensland, Australia cattle ranch, never had much of a chance to experience motherhood. She had one foal, years ago, but the foal died.

When a young calf on the ranch got lost, Moonshine had a second chance, and she stepped up.

Moonshine’s owner, Gerda Glasson, was checking on the horses when she made the surprising discovery of the days-old calf lying down amidst the horses.

“I’m thinking the calf must’ve got lost,” Glasson told ABC News in a story from April 19. “I was looking around for the mother cow, but the calf got up and started walking over to Moonshine. Moonshine put her nose down as if to say, ‘this is mine,’ and the calf started trying to drink.”

Mare and Calf

While Moonshine seemed happy to provide companionship and maternal care to the little calf, she couldn’t provide milk. The calf has been bottle fed by caretakers while Moonshine watches closely. Glassson suspects the calf was separated from its cow mother when some of the cattle herd was recently moved.

The unusual arrangement has likely provided some comfort for the orphaned calf, but Glasson says it won’t go on too much longer. Moonshine has another job to do; she’s a polocrosse mount for Glasson’s kids, and the season starts soon.

“I can’t see myself dragging a calf around to the polocrosse carnivals,” Glasson said. “It’ll be a bit of a sight.”

Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here