© Star photo by Frank Gale
Jessica Boyd is seen near her home in Port au Port East with her Newfoundland pony named Starfish and its new foal Dauntless, which she hopes will prove to be a full-bred Newfoundland pony.
Jessica Boyd hopes to find out through DNA testing whether her newborn foal Dauntless is a full-bred Newfoundland pony like its mom, Starfish.
Dauntless was born at Boyd’s property in Port au Port East on April 13 — and the new foal was already in a hurry.
“I was lucky,” Boyd, who is a veterinarian, said.
“I was only home about 15 minutes when Starfish started to show signs of being into labour and I managed to get her inside the barn. Within another 15 minutes the birth took place and Dauntless was on his feet in 30 minutes.”
She said there has been no problem with mom or baby since, with Dauntless spending his time outside since he’s been five days old and enjoying the spring weather.
Starfish is fairly new to Boyd and her partner, George Alteen, after they purchased her from a breeder in Conception Bay South, sight unseen, in January. They picked her up at the parking lot of Steel Mountain Ultramar and brought her to her new home.
Boyd said she was unaware that Starfish was pregnant when she bought her. She was told since by the seller that Dauntless’ father was also a purebred Newfoundland pony, but she wants to be sure and will send off a hair for testing.
“If he is purebred, chances are he will be going to the United States to be used in a breeding program,” she said. “If proven to be a crossbreed, he will be altered and sold to a loving home.”
While Boyd would love to keep Dauntless, she said there is not much point in breeding horses to keep. In addition to Dauntless, she already has five other horses, with three of them kept at Joe White’s farm in Noel’s Pond.
The name Dauntless was a word that Boyd heard in the movie “Divergent” at Stephenville Cinema, which she watched a few days before the foal’s birth. In the movie, dauntless were the brave.
Boyd started going to horseback riding camps in Rediville at 13, and bought her first horse at the age of 15. She continues to do a lot of horseback riding, although it’s more limited now that she’s busy with work.
She has been a veterinarian since 2011.
Alteen has also taken up riding since the two started seeing each other two and a half years ago.
A unique breed
One of Boyd’s other horses is a Newfoundland pony stallion, which she plans to have bred with Starfish next year.
“My goal with the Newfoundland ponies is to breed them as I want to help sustain the breed,” she said. “I rode so many of them growing up, and to me they’re a beautiful horse.”
Boyd said the biggest problem is that people don’t realize the severity of their situation. She said there are probably less than 500 of the breed remaining — a healthy, but very small gene pool.
“If we’re not careful, we’ll lose this breed of pony forever and never get it back,” she said.
Because Newfoundland is an island and these ponies have been breeding here for hundreds of years, Boyd said it makes them a very unique breed that hasn’t been severely altered by artificial selection. The ponies were used primarily for work, so there wasn’t as much focus on breeding them for looks.
The Newfoundland pony is smaller than the average riding horse, standing at 14.2 hands high in the maximum range, with many smaller than that.
Boyd hopes to find out from the Newfoundland Pony Society if Dauntless is a purebred within the next two or three months.