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Marissa Raymo will discuss everything about horses, including horse health care tips, training tips, equestrian friendly trails, horse buying info and much more.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Knowing When to Say When

I recently saw an ad offering two young horses (gasp) “Free to a Good Home”. The catch here was that the 3-year-old twins had defective legs, caused by becoming “tangled in the womb”.

The poster actually had the nerve to offer them up as pasture pets. Which to me is like saying, “Well I’m sure not going to pay to feed my pasture ornaments for the next 20-some years, but you can!”

Often when a breeder finds out that their mare is carrying twins (ask your vet about ultrasounds!), they are faced with the decision of terminating one of the fetuses in order to 1.) ensure the safety of their mare and 2.) increase the likelihood of ending up with one healthy foal rather than two undersized and possibly defective babies.

In many cases of twin pregnancies in horses, nature will take its course and one or both embryos will be resorbed or aborted during the first 60 days.  Even then the mare is at risk for toxemia from carrying a dead fetus. Worst case scenario, the breeder could end up with 2 stillborn foals and a dead mare.

In this particular case, one or both of these poor young horses are likely to end up in the hands of a slaughterhouse or glue factory before they make it to their teens. A situation like this makes me wonder, “How did it get this far?” Was the owner not aware that his/her mare was carrying twins? Did they neglect to have an ultrasound once she was bred? Or did the owner see dollar signs once they found out that their single stud fee was producing double results?

Now we may never know the reasons behind this particular situation and I’m not above the idea that it may have somehow been a complete accident. It’s hard for me to judge since I once found out that my little barn kitten Chester was actually a Chessie by way of an unplanned pregnancy. 

But the moral of this story is that sometimes the best decision for your horse isn’t the easiest one to make.

So tell me, what would you do?



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