Rare twin foals survive first week of life

The (Myrtle Beach) Sun-NewsApril 22, 2013 

— Twin foals celebrated a milestone last week just by surviving their first week of life.

Daina Baker had been watching her horse Pretty like a hawk for about a month, anticipating the birth. The mare had been pregnant for 370 days by April 11 when she noticed something amiss about 3 a.m.

“I noticed she kept getting up, laying down, getting up,” Baker said. “I knew something wasn’t right so I went out and noticed the red bag was there.”

The red bag is part of the placenta and usually is passed by the mare after the foal is born. When the red bag precedes the birth, it poses health risks to the foal who may not get enough oxygen.

Baker considered herself lucky getting to Pretty in time to deliver Whiskey, a brown male foal who weighed about 55 pounds. She had no idea how lucky she was.

She was cleaning Whiskey and was about to unhook Pretty from the lead that tethered her to a post when realized another foal was on its way.

As she did with Whiskey, she helped Pretty delivery the second foal. Then she looked out over a nearby field.

“I saw an angel. I swear it was an angel,” said Baker, whose grandmother had died that day. “They were coming as my grandmother was leaving. I know it sounds weird, but I saw it.

“So, since she was born last and that’s when I saw the angel and because of how rare twin foals are, I named her Rarity Angel.”

She said the foals were like a present left behind by her grandmother.

Dr. Julie Rosser, a surgeon with the Myrtle Beach Equine Clinic, said the successful delivery of twin foals is rare, an event she’s seen only once in nearly 15 years in the industry.

“In the horse world we consider it a miracle,” she said.

Conceiving twins is more common and is something she said veterinarians look for at the clinic in the early stages of the pregnancy because of the associated risks.

“A horse’s uterus is not really designed to accommodate two large foals,” she said. “They don’t typically have enough area to support nutrition and oxygenation of two foals.” Rosser said it frequently can be a cause to abort one of the embryos because the danger to both the mare and foal is so high.

Baker currently has five other horses. She said she plans to keep Rarity and give Whiskey to her brother John Baker and his wife, Rebecca, who have been helping care for the twins.

At a week old, the foals were energetic, taking turns galloping around Baker’s front yard on Seaside Drive. Rarity stuck close to her mother Pretty while Whiskey preferred more independence. Baker said Pretty has been caring for each foal equally.

“It’s quite a mile marker for them to be a week old,” Rosser said.

Any complications past the week-mark likely will not be related to being twins, Rosser said.

“Horses are surprisingly fragile,” she said. “Now the only obstacles they have in front of them are risks for any foal.”

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