An orphaned, five-month-old Clydesdale horse named Legacy has found an unlikely new mother in Buttercup the goat.

 It all began at Coldwater’s Priest Welsh Clydesdales, which seven horses with the breed’s famously white, hairy hooves call home. Legacy was born at the end of March to mother Ruby.

“It all happened perfectly,” said Emily Welsh, who owns the horses with her husband, Matt. “We tried to get some sleep, but we couldn’t. We were so mesmerized by them.” The horses were inseparable and Legacy started nursing from Ruby easily and immediately – unusual for the breed, she said.

The next day, however, Ruby took a turn for the worst. “She was in a lot of pain (and) had to be put down,” said Welsh, choking back tears. “(Legacy) was all alone in the stall. You think, ‘You never leave a newborn baby alone.’” With help from family, the couple took turns feeding the newborn foal with a bottle. The couple unsuccessfully searched for days for a nurse mare – a horse whose foal has died – to provide milk and be a companion.

Welsh’s father-in-law suggested they get a goat, and their farrier – a craftsman who trims and shoes horses’ hooves – was able to find a farm willing to part with one. They built a special ramp so Buttercup could be higher up to allow Legacy to more easily suckle.

“She was one in 400 goats; she’s kind of nervous. Would (Legacy) suck? We led (Buttercup) up the ramp, and she did. We haven’t looked back since,” said Welsh. “It makes me so happy to see them together. (Buttercup’s) very maternal. It’s very much like a mother and her kid. She doesn’t let Legacy out of her sight.” All of the Priest Welsh Clydesdales are show horses, she said, and Legacy will become one of them one day. For now, she will be at the Coldwater Fall Fair Sept. 26 – likely with Buttercup by her side.

“Love really does have no boundaries,” Welsh said. “I know Ruby would be proud.”

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