Tania Mackee of GFS Sporthorses near Exeter isn't exactly a stranger to surprises. About 18 months ago, she was shocked to find that her mare named Destiny gave birth to identical twin foals. Named GFS Shockwave and GFS Aftershock, those colts have since grown into beautiful yearlings.
The chances of Destiny having that original set of twins was 10,000 to 1, but the Irish Sport Horse wasn't finished defying incredible odds. On February 26, she gave birth to yet another pair of twins.
The odds of Destiny conceiving and successfully giving birth to a second set of twins was about 1,ooo,ooo to 1 .
Tania said in a Facebook post that scans showed only one ovulating follicle and only one fetus after conception. There were no signs that Destiny was once again carrying twins, and if there had been, steps would have been taken to protect the mother from the inherent dangers of carrying and giving birth to two foals at once.
Typically, twin horses do not have a high survival rate. Horses are simply not designed to carry two babies at once. Twin embryos are usually aborted within the first few weeks of pregnancy. And if they're not, they run the very real risk of dying either during or shortly after birth. Many mares have also been lost giving birth to twins.
But despite these devastating odds, Tania told iHeartHorses that Destiny and her newest set of twins are thriving. A filly and colt entered the world after a relatively easy birth.
Destiny carried her secret twins all the way to full term, and the birth was what experienced breeder Tania calls "textbook." It's a mystery how the second foal went undetected for so long, but Tania is thrilled to have two healthy new babies to care for and watch grow.
In no time at all, the twins were on their feet, nursing, and ready to explore their new world.
Unlike Destiny's first set of twins, these newest babies are not identical. They also have a different father than Shockwave and Aftershock. The incredible mother proved herself to be stronger--and luckier--than anyone thought possible.
Tania said in a Facebook post,
"I am well aware that despite the miracle of this incredible event and the likelihood of two sets of healthy twins being born to the same mare being akin to being struck by lightning twice; there will be many people choosing to put a negative and unkind slant on this. That is fine, we are thrilled that both twins survived and feel that it is a balance of fate, luck excellent care and probably a pinch of fairy dust too that saw these two little miracles arrive, survive and win our hearts!"
So far, the new twin foals are lively and athletic. Tania expects they'll take after Shockwave and Aftershock and grow to be strong and beautiful.
The colt and filly still don't have names, and Tania says she's searching for inspiration. In the meantime, the twins are being well cared for by both their devoted mom and everyone at GFS Sporthorses.
Tania is not planning to breed Destiny again. After two successful twin births, we can all agree this hardworking mama deserves our congratulations and more than a bit of pampering.
Don't forget to follow GFS Sporthorses on Facebook to keep up with these beautiful twin foals and their amazing mama!
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
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- Dancing at Liberty & Creating Connection with Your Horse (11 lessons) - Grey Pony Films
All images courtesy of Tania Mackee