INDIAN LAND, SC (WBTV) - The odds of a horse giving birth to twins are about 1 in 10,000. The odds of both offspring surviving are astronomical.
That's why when Erin Woodbury and her family saw another leg coming out of their mare who'd already given birth to one filly, they were concerned.
The rest of the story is best told by the 12 year old Shea Woodbury who was there to witness the miracle of a twin horse birth.
Here's an e-mail she sent WBTV describing the events:
On April 16, 2011, a record 28 tornadoes hit the state of North Carolina. killing at least 22 people. Authorities in Raleigh, the capital city, estimated the cost of the property damage done by the tornadoes at more than $115 million in North Carolina alone. Tragically, at least 22 lives were lost. For so many people, this would be remembered as a heartbreaking day. But even while those storms raged across the countryside, in a little barn along the state's border with South Carolina, a miracle was unfolding.
Inside one of the stalls of my barn, Blue Wave Stable, our pregnant horse, Utah, lay down to give birth. Utah had already given us a baby the year before, so we assumed that she would be okay, even though an ultrasound done nine months earlier had revealed not one, but two small fetuses. We expected one of them to pass or not develop at all, because most of the time that's what happens. But we, the Woodburys, don't usually fit into the "most-of-the-time" category.
Utah was in labor for about 20 minutes before the first filly (a female baby horse), or "Reno" as we named her, started to appear at around 6:30 pm. We immediately got in there and tore open the placenta so Reno could begin to breath. When she was almost all the way out my mom spotted what appeared to be a fifth leg – a worrisome sight until she spotted yet another head!
At 6:45 pm Reno's twin sister, "Tahoe," was born. My mom quickly opened more of the placenta so Tahoe could breathe. She also had to un-wrap the umbilical cord from around Tahoe's neck. While she was doing that my father and I were frantically calling for a vet because we knew that with twin horses, the risks to the mother and foals were extremely serious.
Finally, when Utah was finished giving birth to Tahoe, it seemed everything was okay – but it was not. The umbilical cord was still attached to Tahoe, who was twice the size of her twin sister. Fortunately, the cord had fallen off of Reno shortly after birth. By now she had been licked dry by her mother and was already trying to stand! Poor Tahoe, though, because she was still attached, and because the slippery placenta was underneath her, she couldn't get to her mom to be licked dry, so we had to go get blankets to dry her and keep her warm.
Within two hours, the vet finally arrived. He wasn't our regular doctor because she was out of town. With the help of the vet, we got the twins up and standing, led them to their mom and helped them find a tit so they could begin to suckle.
After staying up for two nights straight (We had to check on them every two hours to make sure the twins were suckling.), it was finally Monday. The vet returned, fully equipped with everything, including his intern. They gave the twins thorough exams and ran a full set of tests. They even let me sit in and help out, which was good for me because I want to be a vet when I grow up.
You see, I am only twelve years of age but have been around horses for most of my life. I basically live and breathe them. My personal horse, Cool Blue Wave, is the inspiration for the name of our barn: Blue Wave Stable. I have raised and trained him since he was just seven months old, and now "Cool" and I have an incredible bond like no other.
Since then, Reno and Tahoe have come along very well and are as healthy as can be. We've tried to limit their contact with people a little while their immune systems get stronger. It's a hard rule to enforce though, because the two little fillies love attention – especially Tahoe. Reno likes it too, but she is still a little shy. The two are pure Belgium Warmbloods that love to cuddle. In fact, when everything is quiet I can lay down in the grass next to them, and they will rest their heads on my arms and shoulders and fall right to sleep. I love them so…yet both will still be up for sale once they get old enough.