Rare and unexpected twin foals born at UGA's veterinary hospital

A very unusual event occurred on Monday at the University of Georgia's Veterinary Hospital in Athens.

A pregnant Blue Roan mare gave birth to twin foals, according to her owner Melissa Jarvis of Athens.

Horses simply aren't designed to carry twins, and the lack of space in the mother's uterus can cause embryos to starve, according to the Scone Equine Hospital.

Mares have a twin pregnancy rate of between 3 and 30%, depending on the breed. However, only 1 to 3% result in the live birth of both twins, making it a rare and special event when it does happen. Additionally, the survival rate of both twins after birth is also quite low. 

In most cases, if it is known that a mare is pregnant with twins, the decision is usually made to manually ablate one of the embryos to improve the chances of survival for the other embryo. Also, a twin pregnancy and birth can result in difficulties for the mare in the future.

Apparently, no one knew that the mare, named Tilly, was pregnant with twins despite being checked by veterinarians many times during her pregnancy, Jarvis said.

Tilly had many veterinary checks throughout her pregnancy due to various concerns, and she was sent to the veterinary hospital a couple of weeks before she gave birth because of concerns about her foaling.

Tilly gave birth to a colt (boy) and a filly (girl). They are both small in size—about half of what they should be—but full of spunk and zest. However, because of the limited space inside their mother during the pregnancy, both twins were fitted with splints on their legs to help with contracted tendons.

Additionally, it appears that the colt may need emergency surgery on his bladder.

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Courtesy of Melissa Jarvis

Unfortunately, the extra care required for the birth and the foals' round-the-clock care and medical needs after the birth have placed a strain on their owners, including Jarvis and her 15-year-old daughter.

Jarvis says she has been a veterinary technician for over 20 years and has spent much of her own time, money, and tears helping save pets and animals belonging to other people. She told FOX 5 Atlanta that it feels "horrible" being on the other side now, but she is very grateful for any help that she receives.

Jarvis also said she is grateful for the help she has already received from the technicians, veterinary students, residents, and veterinary specialists overseeing the care of the mare and foals at UGA.

If you would like to help, a GoFundMe account has been established for the mare and her foals. Additionally, donations can be made directly to UGA by calling 706-542-3223 or 706-542-5546.

Please note that FOX 5 Atlanta does not officially endorse any GoFundMe accounts or guarantee the money will be used for the stated purposes.