In its most elemental definition motherhood is the bearing of offspring. Motherhood is much more, the instinct to nurture even offspring other than our own, is an undeniable force. These two mares have taken mothering to an extraordinary level. Meet Crystal and Moonshine.

In 2015, Crystal, an elderly mare at Mount Bundy station near Adelaide River in the Northern Territory (AUS) adopted an orphan Brahman calf. Crystal and Cooper, the calf, were inseparable spending their days together in the pasture and nights dozing in the barn.

Crystal and her calf, Cooper

Last month, Anthony and Gerda Glasson of Piccarilli Station, near Thargomindah in Queensland (AUS) returned from an Easter holiday to find that their children’s horse, Moonshine, had adopted a week old baby cow.

The Glassons had recently moved cattle and the baby had apparently been separated from its mother, leaving it essentially orphaned.

“Moonshine put her nose down as if to say, ‘this is mine’, and the calf started trying to drink. It was something I’ve never seen before,” said Gerda.

Moonshine and her calf

16-year-old Moonshine had a foal a decade ago that did not survive. The calf tries to nurse but there is no milk. The Glasson’s bottle feed him under Moonshine’s scrutiny.

“She’s never actually raised a foal; she’s never been a mum,” Glasson said. “So she might be thinking that this is her chance.”

Happy Mother’s Day WARHorses!