'Barren' Horse's Surprise Birth — To Rare Twins!


Last year, Yvonne Bartram’s vet told her that two breeding mares on her farm in England were barren, unlikely to ever conceive again. Luckily, he was wrong, twice! Six weeks ago, the 13-year-old mare named Sofie gave birth to twins, and the other, a 19-year-old named Elbe, is expecting for the second time since the diagnosis.

When Bartram, 47, was told her mares were barren, she thought she might sell Sofie as a riding horse —the mare had been an international show jumper before she began breeding. But one day, Bartram’s farrior pointed out that the horse “looked a bit heavy.” A different vet performed a scan and confirmed that the mare was seven months in foal.

Sofie was due in September, and Bartram and her staff took bets on when the foal would turn up, and whether it would be a filly or a colt. October came, and Sofie still hadn’t gone into labor.

“We’d given up on the sweepstakes,” Bartram tells Ezquara,when on a cold, October night, “she finally laid down to start foaling. I thought, ‘Hell, for the size of the mare, that’s not a very big foal.’ And then, another pair of feet!”

The second, very unexpected baby was Fell, who Bartram calls “the bonus.” Though he stood up on his legs the day after he was born, they were underdeveloped limbs, and Bartram’s vets pressured her to put the foal down. That wasn’t an option for her.

“The odds of all three of them surviving is about 10,000 to one,” she says. “Horses just aren’t designed to carry twins, so to have twins is special. If Fell only ever gets to play in a field his whole life, as long as he’s pain-free, that’s good enough for me.”

Bartram, who has only run her stud, Elysian Horses, for three years, and still works full-time for the British National Health Service, is waiting to fit Fell into a special pair of boots to help straighten his legs. The little horse is still so small that at 6 weeks old, he’s not yet the size of a newborn! She is also trying to raise funds to pay for the $3,000 boots from Argentina.His brother Vinnie is the bigger horse, and looks like his mother. But Fell has the stronger character, Bartram says.

“Whatever we do to him, he just gets on with it, he just adapts. Such a little fighting spirit.”



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