Courtesy Randell Book
The birth of twin foals is a rare occurance, but Docs Cheyenne West and Docs Cimarron West, twin fillies born in May, celebrated a healthy four-month birthday.
On May 26, 2010, a Rockwall, Texas, Quarter Horse mare named Lil Mis Bit Of West (aka Gypsy) gave birth to healthy twin foals. The birth of live twins is rare in horses, because one twin usually dies well before foaling.
This month, shortly after celebrating their four-month birthday, the twins are doing well.
“They are in excellent health and are growing up fast,” says Randell Book, who owns the horses with his wife, Kathy.
Both dun fillies, the foals were named Docs Cheyenne West and Docs Cimarron West. Their sire, a Quarter Horse stallion named Docs Peppy Benz, owned by Kenneth and Janice Campbell of Sanger, Texas, was euthanized shortly after the breeding 10 months earlier, due to an injury sustained during an accident. This was the second breeding between Lil Mis Bit Of West and Docs Peppy Benz. The first resulted in a single foal.
Having two foals has meant double the effort in raising them, according to Randell.
“You have to buy milk supplement and feed each one,” he says, referring to the fact that mares with twins often can’t produce enough milk for both babies. “You also need to give the mare extra food and supplements to help her produce milk and stay in good shape.”
Just like human twins, the twin fillies are similar in some ways and very different in others, Randell observes.
“They are alike and different at the same time,” he says. “They want to eat together but try to push each other away. If you work with one, the other gets one jealous. If one gets hurt the other one stays by her side as protection.”
Randell said the fillies play together a lot, and when they want to be alone, they stay where they can still see each other.
“If one filly gets out of sight, the other filly starts calling and looking for her,” he says.
Live twin foals are rare because mares abort one or both of the twins 70 percent of the time. Permanent damage to the mare’s reproductive tract may occur in some cases. Twins can be detected early in a pregnancy with the help of ultrasound, and mare owners can elect to have one or both embryos removed to avoid potential complications.
In Gypsy’s case, no ultrasound was performed, so the Books were unaware of the twin pregnancy until the day of the foaling.
“When I realized Gypsy was going to have the second foal, I was scared and excited, Randell says. “Gypsy was very tired, so I had to [help] deliver the second twin.”
The twin fillies are part of the Books’ small Foundation Quarter Horse breeding program.
“We have a small place right now but want to get bigger and breed the all-around horse,” Randell says.
The fillies carry the bloodlines of the program’s well-known horses, including Mercedes Benz, Leo, Poco Lena, Lighting Bar, Three Bars, Midway, Old DJ, Way Out West, King and others.