Rare equine twins born north of Auckland

January 3, 2009

Proud mum Tarn with new foals Rio and Holly.

Christmas 2008 will not be forgotten for proud horse owners Gayle Lawrie and Lee Fairbairn after their 14 year old thoroughbred mare Tarn gave birth to twins early on Christmas morning.

It all started at 5.15am when Gayle awoke to the sound of the foaling alarm going off.

She quickly dressed and went down to the barn to find Tarn going into labour.

Gayle called her neighbours, Anne Kiddie and Sue Pizzie, for help as she could see that Tarn was pressed very close to the barn wall and she knew she would be unable to move her by herself. Anne is also a qualified vet nurse.

As Sue and Anne arrived, a colt was born. Gayle decided he was a spitting image of a horse she knew back in the United Kingdom when she was young and named him Rio.

While checking him over, Gayle noticed a large protruding bag coming out behind his birth sack and knew this did not look right.

She phoned local Dairy Flat horse vet Neil Twentyman for his opinion.

On closer inspection Anne discovered that the lump was in fact another head and two feet emerging.

With a bit of help, Tarn then gave birth to a small filly who was named Holly in recognition of being born on Christmas Day.

Both foals were a good weight and looked bright, although Gayle was still very concerned as she knew it was unlikely that twins would survive.

Twin foals Rio and Holly are doing well.
After about 10 hours of special care and some bottle-feeding and help with balance, the pair were learning the basics of standing up and feeding from mum.

A week later, Gayle reports that Rio and Holly are feeding well, running around lots and getting up to mischief.

They have been checked over by Neil Twentyman and both mare and twins are doing great.

Gayle is sold on the concept of foaling alarms.

Without one, she believes she may well have lost her foals, as Tarn was showing no signs of giving birth just 90 minutes earlier.

"It is such a clever device and was so accurate," she says. "I never had one false alarm. As soon as it went off she was in labour."