THERE was an early morning surprise delivery for a family who run a horse rescue centre based in Leigh Sinton, near Worcester.

Sue Penny knew that white mare Ceiriad, rescued from a field near Sling Lane, Malvern, was pregnant, but there were fears that mother and baby might not survive the birth.

Ceiriad was malnourished when she came to the centre and was already pregnant by a stallion much larger than she is.

But when the Penny family checked on the mare at 5.30am they were over the moon to discover that the mare had successfully given birth during the night at the Penny Ha’Penny Horse and Pony Rescue Centre.

Mrs Penny said: “We knew she was imminent, but didn’t know exactly when she would give birth and were worried that because the father was bigger than the mare it could be an issue.

“But she had the foal by herself and mother and baby are doing very well.

“We checked on her at 11pm the night before and she was fine and then in the morning there was the little chap lying next to her.”

The colt has been named Benjie and is making good progress.

Walking together in the paddock, Ceiriad dotes upon her newborn foal and is taking great care of him.

Mrs Penny said: “He is doing very, very well, as is his mum.

“Ceiriad is looking after him beautifully. She absolutely dotes on him and they are both up and about.

“He follows his mum and she keeps him very close at hand or I suppose you could say hoof.”

Ceiriad was one of four horses rescued from the field in February who arrived at the centre after walkers became worried about their welfare.

Mrs Penny has recently taken on another two mares, two foals and four other horses which had also been in the same field.

The youngest foal, born on May 25 and named Angel, was separated from its mother before it arrived at the rescue centre and now needs to be bottle fed every three to four hours.

Anyone wishing to help the centre with its work should send cheques, made payable to Penny Ha’Penny Horse and Pony Rescue Shelter, to the shelter c/o 37 Knapp Way, Malvern.