Seeing Double: Handling Equine Twins

Because the mare’s uterus is not designed to support two pregnancies, veterinarians have developed methods for detecting and reducing twins.
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Seeing Double: The Trouble with Twins
Although it is possible for a mare to deliver the occasional set of healthy twin foals, the risk of losing all three horses is high. | Photo:

Veterinarians discuss methods for detecting and reducing twins

Twins are a novelty, especially the equine variety, and while we’ve all heard heartwarming stories about special cases in which both foals survived, the truth is less than one in 100 twin pregnancies results in such a fortunate outcome. Why the miserable odds? Simply, the mare’s uterus is not designed to support two pregnancies simultaneously, says Juan Samper, DVM, PhD, an equine reproduction specialist and associate dean of clinical affairs at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, in St. Kitts, West Indies.

This is why conscientious horse breeders try to avoid this situation altogether, and it is also one of several reasons why veterinarians should examine mares 14 days after breeding, says Ahmed Tibary, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, professor of theriogenology in Washington State University’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.

We visited with Samper and Tibary to understand why twin pregnancies occur, why they’re dangerous, and how early detection and intervention can help you avoid a two-for-one which could prove dangerous or even deadly

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Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey’s Guide to Raising Horses and Storey’s Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog,, she writes a biweekly blog at that comes out on Tuesdays.

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