Shire horse has twins
SHIRE horse breeder Emyr Williams is celebrating after a mare overcame astonishing odds to produce healthy twin foals.
Both were born on Monday on Anglesey and are now being cared for at Richard Owen’s equine clinic at Waen, St Asaph.
The equine world in North Wales is buzzing with the news because the chances of both surviving are so slim.
Horse experts reckon the odds of a mare giving birth to healthy twin foals are about one in 10,000.
Cases among crossbred foals, like the ones at St Asaph, are even rarer.
Mr Williams, who runs the UK’s largest Shire horse stud at Ddrydwy Farm, Penscarnisiog, Ty Croes, said the pair were “my own little miracles”.
“It’s my first set of twins in more than 20 years of breeding,” he said.
Despite the celebratory mood, both breeder and vet are aware things could yet go badly wrong.
Both foals were tubed for colostrum and one needed help standing on its feet.
And as the mare is struggling to produce enough milk, vet Richard Owen was hoping to turn the family out to fresh grass yesterday.
“Unfortunately the weather was too bad,” he said. “But I’m hopeful they will be fine. They are robust and bouncy, and the weaker foal is now getting to her feet unaided.”
He added: “It is the first viable pair of foals I have seen in more than 20 years at the clinic.
“Usually the mother is unable to carry twins to full term, or one of the foals dies at birth.”
Mr Williams pulled the twins – a filly and colt – from their mother, an eight-year-old Coloured mare called Dancer, on Monday morning.
A former ridden horse from Kent, it was her first pregnancy, with paternal honours going to the six-year-old grey Shire stallion Ddrydwy Silver Island.
Debbie Barry and Cara Downes with the mare and foals.
Scans had confirmed the presence of two foals but by then it was too late to intervene.
As the foals compete for nutrients within the womb, twins are potentially life threatening for the mare.
Mr Williams chose to let nature take its course. “When I pulled the first foal, I knew the second was still alive,” he said.
At the equine clinic, the foals have been the centre of attention.
Gill, Richard’s wife, said: “There’s not much work going on around the yard, as everyone wants to have a look.
“They are a pair of miracles, really. We’ve had twins here before but they’ve not survived.
“When the foals first arrived, one of the vets described them as being like a pair of greyhounds. They are lovely and very, very cute.”
The focus is now on the mare as staff help her take on sufficient nutrients.
They want to avoid bottle feeding the foals as it involves a lot of work over a long period for the owner.
Mr Williams is aware his twins are not yet out of the woods. Only yesterday another of his Shire mares, and its newborn foal, died.
“I was speaking to a friend who had twin foals a few years back,” said Mr Williams. “One died after four days.”
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