With all the betting on one horse or another to do better than all the rest during the last few weeks, there is one equine achievement nobody would have risked putting money on – the delivery of healthy twin foals. After all, the odds of this happening are 10,000 to one!
But those amazing odds have been achieved with the gorgeous blue-roan Clydesdale mare, Nikki, owned by the Mullenger family north of Kyneton, bringing two fabulous fillies into the world just five weeks ago tomorrow!
So rare is it for a mare to carry twins full-term that the Mullengers, although quite expert in all things equine, particularly Clydesdales, didn’t even suspect that their mare was about to become a mother of two.
John explained that Nikki was taken to the north of the state to their chosen Clydesdale stallion and on the way back from the property, was driven by the stallion’s owner to the vet for a check up and an ultrasound.
Yes, the news was good, Nikki was 17 days in foal (scans can show a foal as early as 15 days) but that was it. Mind you, it could have been worrying if it was discovered that Nikki was carrying twins. A mare’s system is tuned to carrying only one baby. Two can be fatal for one or both babies and sometimes, the dam, which of course, leads to those incredible odds!
But Nikki, who has delivered several healthy single babies from her other pregnancies, carried out her latest achievement without a hiccup.
In fact, on a dark morning five weeks ago, John went out to see how Nikki was faring because she was a day overdue giving birth.
“The mare was down and I saw a white baldy face on the ground and so I left them alone and went in to breakfast,” John says.
In the light of day he went out to check on Nikki again and found that a second foal had been born! It was that much of a surprise.
Although one filly is a little smaller than the other and needed to be fed by tube for a few days because she couldn’t quite cotton on to drinking from mum, Lizzie and Maggie are now thriving, as is Nikki who has plenty of milk and affection for her latest offspring.
And the twins’ handling has already gently and firmly begun. Courtney Mullenger is playing the main role looking after the fillies and they are quite relaxed when it comes to being patted all over, having their feet picked up and their soles tapped. They’re also being introduced to hard food with their own special feed area tucked away in their yard so mum can’t pinch their tucker. In time, whether they make it to the show ring and enjoy success like Nikki did, get broken to harness by John or best of all, produce their own fillies, is of course, all yet unknown – not yet even thought about. After all, the surprise and delight of their birth is still being enjoyed all on its own.
Nikki and her delightful surprises, Maggie and Lizzie. Photo: Valerie Hornbuckle
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