Twin foals

Double trouble


A couple of months ago Sarah attended the lovely Sally who had a surprise in store for all of us!

Sally was at stud to foal down and was noted to be going into the early stages of labour by stud owner Liz. However, it was soon apparent that she wasn’t progressing as expected – two legs had appeared but she was struggling and seemed exceptionally painful. Liz was quickly on the phone to vet Sarah who whizzed down to the stud as fast as Ribble Valley’s police find acceptable!


Upon feeling inside Sally, Sarah was able to identify one foal which was presented with their head and neck twisted over. However, it seemed very much stuck, despite being not overly large. A little more feeling further back revealed something no one was expecting – an extra pair of legs also within Sally’s pelvis – narrowing the gap and wedging the foal in place. At first Sarah wasn’t sure if these were the back legs of one very badly presented single foal, but after further palpation discovered that they were actually another set of front legs. It was at this point that the cavalry (Sarah’s second on call vet Julia) was called in to lend extra assistance if required.


Sally was quickly sedated, given pain relief, and an epidural placed in her spine to stop uterine contractions. Once contractions had stopped and she was more comfortable, Sarah was able to push the second foal further back beyond the pelvis, leaving room for the first foal to be repositioned and delivered. This was no mean feat and required both Liz and Sarah to pull on one leg each, as well as a lot of lubricant! Despite giving everyone a scare when she went limp half way through, Babette was soon wriggling round on the floor.

Julia arrived and was quite confused as to why Sarah was still two arms deep in Sally’s uterus, despite there being a foal on the floor, when Bettina (with her exit route now completely clear) made a swift entrance into the world. Due to being quite squashed up in the womb with her big sister, Bettina’s limbs were initially much weaker than hoped, and so Julia stomach tubed her with some colostrum in case she struggled to stand.

Babette and Bettina are now two months old and are both doing really well, full of character and sass. Sally has been a fantastic mother and is doing her best to look after both foals, ably assisted by stud owners Ian and Liz, who have worked tirelessly to supplement and support these twins.

Twin foals with equine vet Sarah


It is incredibly rare for a mare to carry twin foals to term; usually they resorb both pregnancies or will abort both foals at 8-9 months. It is even rarer for both to be delivered safely and for the mare to accept and be able to nurse both foals.

Normally if twin foals are seen when a mare is pregnancy scanned 14-17 days after covering, one of the embryos will be ‘squeezed’ in order to maximise the other foal’s (and the mare’s) chances of survival. We were incredibly lucky in this case that not only did Sally successfully carry both foals to term, but also that she was so closely monitored during her foaling, so that we were able to attend as soon as a problem was noted. If things had been left to chance, then the outcome would have been very different, with the possibility of losing not just the foals, but also the mare.