When English equestrian Wendy Bulmer was involved with buying a female horse in early 2015, she was subsequently surprised to learn that the new mare was pregnant. However, after the equine gave birth, Bulmer was in line for an even bigger shock. The horse enthusiast was forced to do a double take, thanks to the newborn foal’s very individual markings.
In 2015 Bulmer was a riding instructor at the Fyling Hall School for equestrians near the coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay in northern England. The attraction was home to about eight horses, all of which were available for lessons in the beautifully picturesque North Yorkshire countryside.
As well as being a qualified instructor at the school, the middle-aged Bulmer was responsible for sourcing suitable equines for the Fyling Hall stable. So being one horse shy, the riding school dispatched Bulmer to a equestrian sale in September 2014. The hope was that she could pick out a pleasant pony for visiting children to interact with.
That was when the horse procurer came across Katie, a lovely chestnut mare who the experienced rider thought would fit in perfectly at Fyling Hall. Bulmer decided to purchase the animal there and then. However, in the months after she took Katie back to Robin Hood’s Bay, it became increasingly apparent that something was not quite right.
While Katie soon made herself at home at Fyling Hall, the new acquisition began to worry Bulmer in early 2015 after the mare had shed her winter coat. Since most of the horses at the riding facility lived outside, they were given thick rugs to see them through the worst of the seasonal weather. Usually, when those insulating blankets were removed as Spring approached, the equines’ sleek, muscular bodies were revealed once more.
However, while the other Robin Hood’s Bay horses displayed their more streamlined figures for the new season, Katie certainly did not. To put it bluntly, the mare still looked considerably chunky. So, because of her considerable experience with horses, Bulmer felt that something was seriously amiss with the latest addition to the Fyling Hall stable.
Consequently, the riding instructor decided to keep an extra-keen eye on the mare in order to better monitor her condition. In the meantime, Katie went to work for the riding school. But, as the weeks passed, Bulmer came to the conclusion that this had to stop after she realized exactly what was going on with the mare.
Indeed, Bulmer revealed all in an interview with the TV arm of the U.K. news agency SWNS in July 2015. The equestrian explained, “We used her for a month or two and, instead of getting slimmer, she was getting fatter. So we suspected she might be in foal.” The Fyling Hall staff’s suspicions were soon confirmed, and vets told Bulmer that Katie would give birth some time in the Spring.
Horse pregnancies last for an average of 11 months. This meant that Katie had been pregnant in the September that Bulmer had purchased the mare. “[I] didn’t know she was in foal, so that was a bit of a surprise,” the riding instructor revealed to U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail in July 2015.
But it would not be long until Katie eventually delivered her foal, a healthy little boy, at Fyling Hall. Recalling the whirlwind of events, Bulmer later recalled to the SWNS cameras, “She stopped work and in the last weekend in May she produced this little feller.”
However, given that the school was not geared up to care for an infant, Bulmer had mixed feelings about welcoming a newborn foal into the Robin Hood’s Bay stable. “I wasn’t very happy at first, but he is so friendly, and the kids love him,” the horse woman later admitted to the Daily Mail.
But it was when Bulmer noticed the colt’s unusual markings, that she began to be smitten by the small addition. And that was because the foal sported a white patch on his brown fur and mane just behind his head that uncannily resembled the profile of a running horse. It looked for all the world as if the colt was being followed by himself in silhouette.
Bulmer felt that the foal’s markings were such a natural masterpiece that the new arrival needed a fitting name. As a result, she decided to call the colt Da Vinci – after Leonardo, the legendary Italian Renaissance artist – or sometimes Vinny for short.
The website for Fyling Hall debuted Da Vinci’s distinctive appearance the month after he was born. In copy to accompany the pictures of the mane attraction, Bulmer wrote, “There is no way to identify who the father is, but he must have had a lot of quality because Da Vinci is such a fine boy. He is the most adorable colored foal with exceptional markings.”
The riding tutor continued, “He has a perfect little ghost horse on his left shoulder: his mane becomes the ghost’s mane then it appears to have a chest and a leg which runs down his front leg.” Bulmer also highlighted a fact which must have sealed the deal for her. She added, “He also has a perfect little heart on his bottom.”
In all her long years of experience, working with horses, Bulmer felt that Vinny was undeniably one of the most unique-looking equines she had ever come across. “The chestnut horses have irregular patches, but they don’t normally make something as recognizable,” she informed the Daily Mail.
And it seemed that Da Vinci’s birth provided the children who attended Fyling Hall with a unique opportunity to expand their knowledge about horses. First the kids got to follow Katie throughout her pregnancy and see close-up how it progressed. Then, once Vinny had come along, the riding pupils were able to learn about how to care for a foal.
Again writing on the riding school’s website, Bulmer underlined the importance of this shared experience for all of her young charges. “The children have been very excited and come to visit and play with him at every possible opportunity,” she wrote. “This is good for them and also good for the foal as it is making him into a very kind and sociable animal.”
In the weeks that followed his birth, Da Vinci developed a very individual personality to match his distinctive appearance. “He’s growing into a big fine boy now,” Bulmer told SWNS. “He’s very adventurous, very cheeky and we thought it would be a nice experience for children in the school to meet a foal right from day one.”
Given Vinny’s unique looks, it did not take long for the colt to find fame on the internet. In the U.K. his story was featured in the top-selling tabloids the Daily Mail and The Mirror, and subsequently the story went viral online. But no-one was happier to see the foal’s moment in the spotlight than Bulmer herself, despite her initial misgivings. “He’s just lovely,” she gushed in conclusion to SWNS TV.