Twin foals make rare surprise

Farm Forum

A lifetime spent around horses and a long career in horse breeding could not prepare Sylvia Passow, of Peterson, Minn., for what she saw the night of May 13.

Passow had a mare, Babe, in foal and had a monitor to alert her when the mare went into labor.

It was around 3:30 a.m. when Passow realized she had a unique situation on her hands. Her mare was not delivering just a single foal — she had carried twins.

“Maybe it shouldn’t have been a total surprise, but it was,” Passow said.

Mares carrying twins is not totally irregular, but when they do, there is a good chance that one, or both, of the foals will be stillborn. Sometimes the mare’s health can be in danger as well. Seeing the birth of twin foals, both alive and in good condition, is a rarity.

Passow, who has plenty of experience at Brush Poppin Ranch and with her father’s appaloosa breeding business prior to that, said the chances of delivering healthy twin foals is about one in 500,000.

Passow called a veterinarian on the phone after her mare delivered the first foal.

“I thought, at first, that possibly the mare was prolapsing. … I was actually on the phone with the vet when the second foal started to be born,” she said. “I looked closer and saw a little hoof and another nose, and I said, ‘There’s two!'”

The appaloosa twin foals are a filly and a colt, and they are unnamed. Passow has had plenty of suggestions from a surprisingly wide audience that has responded to pictures posted on Facebook and the ranch’s webpage.

Passow said she would not make any specific plans for the foals until they were a little older and a little healthier. Whether they stay on the ranch or are sold, though, she would prefer to keep the pair together.

“I can tell that both foals are very attached to each other, just from watching them play. I’m hoping that wherever they go, or if they stay here, I hope they’ll be able to stay together,” Passow said.

She asked that interested people “like” the ranch’s Facebook page for updates on the foals, instead of sending friend requests to Passow’s personal page; she said she has had hundreds of requests already.