SALEM, Ohio – When Melinda Virden went to the pasture to check on a pregnant mare April 14, she found something that happens in just one of every 10,000 equestrian pregnancies – twins.
And these weren’t just any twins. They were living, healthy twins that had been carried to full term, a small miracle considering at least one foal is lost 80 percent of the time in twin births.
But despite the outrageous odds, Soggy Meadows Farm in West Point is now home to twin foals.
The mare, a 7-year-old registered Paint that goes by Duchess in the barn, “volunteered to get pregnant,” according to Virden, and it wasn’t until February that Virden realized her horse was going to have a baby.
Confusion. Virden knew Duchess was due soon when she went to the pasture that morning, so she was looking for a foal. But when she got there, she saw a foal near a horse that wasn’t Duchess.
“It was actually being guarded by one of the other horses,” Virden said.
Confused, Virden looked around and saw Duchess standing about 100 feet away. Then, she saw another foal dart from underneath Duchess’ belly.
Virden was shocked. There were twice as many foals as she was expecting and she didn’t know what to do first.
“My biggest task was getting all three in the same place at the same time,” she said.
Virden called her family for help and the group quickly built a small pen to keep the horses together.
All is well. The foals had already been cleaned and they nursed within 30 minutes, the same as single foals. A veterinarian went to the farm later that day and gave the mare and the foals a clean bill of health.
“They’re just wonderful,” Virden said. “It’s such a shock and surprise.”
The twins, a filly and a colt, are tobiano tri-colored medicine hat Paints. The colt is average sized, but the filly is about 3 inches shorter than normal.
During the last three weeks of Duchess’ pregnancy, Virden noticed the mare was exceptionally large, but said the possibility of twins never crossed her mind.
Virden is fairly certain the foals were sired by a registered black and white Paint stallion named Reno’s Blackjack, but she will have DNA tests done to make sure.
The foals registered names’ are Soggy Meadows Atta Boy and Soggy Meadows Atta Girl. The colt is still waiting on his barn name, but the filly has already been dubbed Patches.
Good mom. Duchess, whose registered name is Kira Poco Midas, has accepted the challenge of raising two foals. When she rounds them up, Virden said she always touches each one with her nose.
“She will touch both foals like she’s counting them,” Virden said.
Although the foals just arrived, they have already been spoken for. Once the babies are weaned, Virden’s husband will take the colt and her sister will raise the filly.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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