With only about 450 Newfoundland ponies alive today, every birth of the stocky little pony is special. That's why Sarah Kean and her family are especially thrilled to announce the birth of their newest foal. Named Salty, the little filly is thought to be only the fourth Newfoundland pony born this year. She's part of a widespread effort to keep the breed alive, and she's joining a beloved herd with a long history.
In the 1980s, the number of Newfoundland ponies found in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Ontario hit an all-time low of only 100 ponies. This population drop prompted the provincial government to deem the ponies as "heritage animals." This designation means the ponies can not be exported off the island without proper permits, and the Newfoundland Pony Society renewed their efforts to keep the breed alive.
— Beth Penney (@bethpenneyNL) July 8, 2019
Sarah Kean decided to contribute to the breed's rebirth last year. Her mare, Belle, became pregnant, and the family anxiously awaited the arrival of her precious foal. The wait, however, wasn't easy. Belle was pregnant for 11 months, and the normally docile pony didn't exactly enjoy pregnancy. Kean said,
"She didn't want you to touch her and her ears would go back and she would kick. Oh, she was just nasty."
As her due date approached, Kean and the rest of the family watched closely for signs of labor. The expected due date came and went, and still Belle remained pregnant. The family was prepared to help Belle once the big day finally came, but it turned out that Belle had plans of her own.
On a Sunday morning, Kean decided to make an impromptu visit to check on Belle. She was looking for signs that the pony might soon go into labor, but what she found instead was a big surprise. She looked into the stall, and there nestled against Belle was a newborn filly. Kelly Power-Kean, Sarah's mother and registrar for the Newfoundland Pony Society, told CBC,
"We were waiting, waiting, watching for signs, and she surprised us!"
They named the surprise filly Salty, and a thorough check found her to be healthy and happy. Now that her baby is finally here, Belle has gone back to being her friendly self and seems to be enjoying motherhood. Salty started nursing on her own, and Belle insists on always being able to see what her baby is up to.
With Salty's birth, the Newfoundland Pony Society hopes to continue spreading the word that Newfoundland Ponies are worth saving. Known for their heavy coats and thick tails that enable them to thrive in harsh weather, the stocky ponies are still considered to be endangered, but their future is looking bright.
Featured image via Facebook/Kelly Power Kean