Breeding horses can be a tricky business. Pregnancy and delivery can create challenges even for animals. This is why breeders have to prepare, just in case, their animals — either mom or baby — might not make it. But one mare in Western Australia stumped everyone, including her caretakers when she gave birth to healthy twins.
When Pearl the mare gave birth, the farmhands were perplexed at where the two babies came from.
Since they didn’t witness the birth, they thought another pregnant mare had given birth at the same time and then abandoned her baby.
“I thought, ‘What’s happened?’” said Kevin Spurr, the owner of the stud horse that fathered the foals. “Have two mares had two foals, and one mare’s taken off? Then I quickly came to realize that Pearl had had twins — and they were both alive.”
The reason this is so extraordinary is that the odds of a horse having twins is about 1 in 10,000.
The odds of both of those twins being born alive is even smaller. As for both of them being healthy and surviving past infancy, well, it was almost unthinkable.
“The chances of both surviving was considered almost zero,” said John Maxwell, an equine vet. “So, this was an exceptional occurrence.”
Maxwell has been practicing equine medicine for more than 50 years.
He says he’s never yet seen a viable twin pregnancy in a horse.
But to everyone’s amazement, both mom and babies seem to be doing very well. The foals are now a couple of weeks old and very healthy in spite of needing a lot of care.
“Either at 6 o’clock or at 8 o’clock in the morning, we give them antibiotics, and in the evening as well,” said Nicole Kumpfmueller, a farmhand who works with the babies. “They seem like they’re doing really well and they might make it.”
Interestingly, Pearl also has only one eye, which simply lends to the interest of her story.
It’s not often that a one-eyed mare spontaneously has healthy twins! But everyone on the farm is thrilled and working as hard as they can to make sure all three animals remain in good health.
“When you see a couple of little foals fighting for their lives and you hold the power of life and death over those foals …yeah, I don’t know,” said Spurr. “I just wanted to give them a chance to live, to see if they could make it.”
In addition to the antibiotics, the twins also need to be given supplemental milk every two hours, including through the night.
The foals have been named Snip and Drop. They’re not completely safe yet on the health front, but they’re well on their way.
The twins were a complete surprise.
Although prenatal care and ultrasound imaging is an option for mares, Pearl’s owner decided to skip it, which meant they had no idea what was in store for her delivery.
There’s no telling what’ll happen to the foals. But they’ve already defied the odds more than once. With any luck, they’ll do it again.
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