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Fennel the horse gives birth to son at Aldenham Country Park
The clip-clopping of tiny hooves can be heard at Aldenham Country Park as a mischievous newborn foal explores his new surroundings.
Still wobbly on his legs, the horse skitters through his stables eager to see the big wide world - followed by his over-protective but exhausted mum, Fennel.
Fennel horse gave birth to her son on Friday night after a 20 minute labour - exactly one month to the date after her owners expected her to.
On Christmas Eve, Fennel's owners frantically made calls to farms across the county to find someone to house her before she went into labour - before managers at Aldenham Country Park agreed to take her in.
Oliver Burke, ranger at the Dagger Lane park, said he noticed the horse appeared unsettled on Friday and kept an eye on her as the day went on.
It was at 9pm when he popped back into the Dagger Lane stables to check on the horse - and was surprised to see a tiny baby foal lying on the floor next to a confused Fennel.
He said: "I could tell something was up in the day as she seemed agitated at first but then became very quiet and withdrawn, so I tried not to stray too far away from her.
"I checked on her at around 7pm and she was building a nest in the stable, suggesting she knew what was about to happen.
"I did not expect to come back two hours later to find a baby lying on the floor. Fennel looked so confused, but has now grown into motherhood.
"Horses are so discreet when they give birth, nothing like humans."
The new addition to the Aldenham Country Park family, who is yet to be named, has been described as "courageous, social, and always on the hunt for mischief".
Speaking about the newborn, Mr Burke added: "At first we were really worried about him, because he did not feed in the first two hours like horses are supposed to.
"But the next morning he was on his feet and feeding from his mum which was lovely. She takes control and horses can look after themselves, we are rarely needed.
"All we need to do is make sure he is clean and happy - it is up to Fennel to make sure he stays out of trouble on the farm."
What do you think the foal should be called? Aldenham Country Park is asking people to come up with inventive name ideas. Winners will receive a free trip to the park and have the chance to have their picture taken with Fennel and the newborn.
To enter, visit the Aldenham Country Park Facebook page or post your ideas below.
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