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Walking Horse Mare Gives Birth To Twins

The LaFlamme family is proud to announce the successful birth of twins out of their mare, Jazz’s Precious, who is by A Jazz Man and out of Precious Pusher B.W, making her a full sister to Master Of Jazz.
Sara LaFlamme shares her account of how the twins came to be:
On March 27, 2010, we witnessed one of the greatest miracles involved with breeding horses - a live twin birth. Here is the story of how the twins came into our lives.

We bought our best mare, Jazz's Precious, from her breeder in November 2009. Precious is one of only three full sisters to the 2007 World Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse, Master Of Jazz. We had been searching not-so-actively for our next truly outstanding broodmare, and when we came across her we just knew we had to have her. Precious quickly became our favorite mare, due to her rare pedigree, Thoroughbred-like good looks, and sweet, loving personality. She was seven months pregnant to M-One Jazz at the time we purchased her, who is a full brother to World Grand Champion NYPD. M-One Jazz is also owned by Precious's breeder, so she was pasture bred with an estimated due date of sometime around March 25.
Things progressed normally; Precious's belly was big enough so as to leave no doubts in our minds that she was indeed in foal, but she was certainly not the biggest mare in the paddock. The only time we noticed she was bigger than "normal" was just before the twins were born, when the babies dropped into position. Precious's stomach developed a well-defined V-shape that indicates the foal is ready to be born. However, from the front and hind views, she was not slab-sided at all (as we expect mares to be when their babies have "dropped") but was wide as a house.

Come March 26, Precious began displaying signs of stage I labor. We expected her to foal that evening, but the next morning she only looked more agitated. She didn't finish her breakfast that morning and was clearly looking for a spot to drop down in the paddock when we turned her out, so we brought her back in to her stall. Finally, she broke her water and got down to foal around 6 p.m. on March 27.
Mom expressed concern that something may be wrong, and went into the stall to investigate. Something looked off, but I distinguished a pair of little black feet, one in front of the other, and a black nose shortly back, so I hesitantly reported that everything looked okay. Then all of a sudden it did not. Two little white feet were now visible just near the black nose. Mom immediately called the vet while I rushed out to call my sister, Margaret.

Precious had gotten nowhere while I was gone - a bad sign. I couldn't remember reading about how to position a foal with all four feet coming at once; I was drawing a complete blank (come to find out from our vet, it is impossible for a foal to be presented with four feet coming out at once. No wonder I drew a blank!). Luckily our dad was on hand to help Margaret and I, as he was so much calmer (not to mention stronger) than we were. Following the clear instructions of what we'd studied, we began the laborious task of trying to get the mare to her feet. Precious downright refused to get to her feet. Finally, in our desperation, my sister and I went to her hind end to see whether we could reposition the foal with Precious down.
At that time I saw the second nose and was dumbfounded. I was thoroughly expecting that we’d be pulling out two dead babies. Partly in shock, yet partly in relief, I stated to my sister over and over, “Oh my God, it’s twins!” We assessed the situation and quickly came up with a game plan.

Between contractions, I gently pushed the second foal (the colt) back into Precious's huge belly while my sister gently pulled the little filly into the world, both of us working with the mare's contractions as we’d been taught. After little boy was back inside momma we got the filly out rapidly. The filly seemed very unresponsive and we thought we'd lost her, but Margaret found that she had a faint heartbeat still. Margaret rubbed her dry with a towel and lifted her head up, clearing fluid out of her nose. At this point Precious had stopped contracting, but with a few gentle tugs of the foal’s legs she got back to business. Out came the colt, kicking his legs, clearly alive, and lo and behold we had two live foals. Also remarkably, both foals were approximately the same size.
Margaret kept rubbing the filly vigorously with a towel to get her blood flowing, and her heartbeat, which was alarmingly slow at the moment of her birth, returned to normal. I lifted the colt up off of the filly's umbilical cord to keep from restricting the blood flow. Dad kept Precious on the ground so she wouldn't break the cord prematurely, and that was when the vet arrived.

The vet told us that just one in 10,000 twin pregnancies result in two live foals.  He fed both foals via stomach tube while Virginia and Dad spread new bedding down in the stall.
Margaret and I slept in Precious's stall that night, keeping the babies warm by covering them with blankets when they laid down and helping them to stand and nurse when they decided they were hungry. We had several close calls with both Precious and the weaker foal (the colt). However, each time Precious’s pain began to get out of hand we promptly administered pain relievers which settled her, and as for the colt, we simply continued to assist him with standing, nursing and keeping warm.
Today Precious is back to her old self, in perfect health, and happily mothering her two babies. She is quite protective and insists on both foals being near her at all times. We named the filly Artemis and the colt Apollo, after the Greek twin gods. Both Artemis and Apollo are smaller than the other foals, but are growing like weeds and exhibit normal foal behavior, complete with an abundance of curiosity and spunk. Since their birth we have been supplementing them with milk replacer to ensure that they receive all the nutrition they need.
So there it is - the amazing story of how we came to witness this once-in-a-lifetime miracle. Mares are not designed to have twins, as a mare's system just cannot support a twin pregnancy. The vast majority of mares who conceive twins abort or else deliver one or both stillborn foals, or die with their foals during delivery, as certainly would have been the case with Precious had we all not acted so promptly. I think I can speak for my whole family when I say that we all feel so proud and beyond blessed to have two live, healthy foals and a thriving momma (who will be bred back to The Skywatch for a 2011 foal) out of a dreaded, equine twinning. Precious and her new babies were that one in 10,000 statistic - how awesome is that?

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