COESSE — For someone who bets on horses, the odds of twin foals being born alive and healthy to a healthy mare are staggeringly slim. Most websites say 1 in 10,000 are twin pregnancies and only 9 percent of those are carried to term.
But in Coesse’s Conley and Koontz Equine Hospital, a 16-year-old Paint/Pinto mare named Lil’ Miss Boutique, “Tiki,” beat those odds, delivering a colt and a filly over the weekend.
Owners of the sorrel overo mare are Eric and Laura Mason of Huntington, proprietors of Pine Hollow Paint Horses, a 43-acre farm bordered by Salamonie Reservoir State Park in southern Huntington County. Sire of the twins is Mr. Monopoly, a black tobiano stallion, also owned by the Masons.
Tiki was brought to the equine hospital Feb. 23 for round-the-clock observation since it was known she was having twins.
The colt was born just before midnight Saturday with the filly coming just after midnight Sunday morning, giving the twins different birthdays.
Though the colt was born first and was the larger of the two, the filly was the first to her feet and to suckle.
Ryan Rothenbuhler DVM, MS has been monitoring Tiki and is confident in her abilities.
“She’s making milk like a Holstein,” Rothenbuhler said.
Twin births in horses are not only uncommon, but dangerous, to the foals and to the mare. In most cases nature takes care of the situation, with one embryo being resorbed within the first weeks of the pregnancy. When this doesn’t happen, often the veterinarian will try to cause resorption. Rothenbuhler said he tried twice but after 41 days, Tiki still had twins.
According to horseadvice.com’s Robert Oglesby DVM, a twin pregnancy in horses is very undesirable.
“The uterus has a hard time supporting twins so the incidence of late gestational (miscarriage) runs as high as 70 percent,” Oglesby said. “When (resorption) does not occur, foals are often born dead or weak and (abnormal or difficult labor is) common. Other complications include retained placenta, delayed recovery of the uterus, decreased rate of settling for the next two years and potentially permanent damage to the mare’s reproductive tract.”
In most cases of live births, either one or both foals do not survive beyond two weeks after birth.
Rothenbuhler said Tiki had an advantage because the Masons are vigilant in keeping her up to date with her vaccinations and medical exams.
“This is our once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Laura Mason. “We’ve been breeding (horses) for 20 years,” with more than 100 foals born at their farm.
She admits a fondness for the little filly, who seems fearless, even approaching strangers in her stall and allowing a quick touch. She weighed 59 pounds Tuesday and the colt weighed 85 pounds. A normal foal at birth weighs about 100 pounds according to Rothenbuhler.
The colt’s markings include what Laura calls a medicine hat, the brown spot on his head and a shield on his chest, which she says is considered lucky.
The Mason’s daughter Brianna, a sixth-grader at Salamonie Middle School, has given the twins temporary names of “Nick Nack” and “Patty Whack,” though a naming contest for the pair is in the planning stages.
The twins could go home as early as this weekend, the only reason for the delay being the freezing temperatures at night.
The twins overcame more than just the odds, and seem determined to thrive. Being the son of Mr. Monopoly, maybe the colt should be named “Chance.” And with her tenacious hold to life, the filly could be called, “Grace.”