Rare twin foals are out of intensive care

RANCHO SANTA FE — Sunny and Angel, a pair of extremely rare twin foals that overcame amazing odds against their survival and are now four months old, have moved
out of Intensive Care at Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe. They had been living in the ICU stall of the Equine Hospital since they were born March 28. As of July 30, the foals and their mother, a maiden mare named Lena, were moved to a “horse condo.”
The Quarter Horse/Arabian mix foals, an extremely rare twin birth, attracted worldwide attention during their time in the Intensive Care stall in the Equine Hospital at Helen Woodward Animal Center. The mare’s owner didn’t know Lena was expecting twins until they were born. Tests indicated that there was one foal … a colt (male). But when Sunny came out there was another foal in the same placenta. This is called an “Eclipse” birth and the chances of both Sunny and Angel surviving more than two weeks was one in 10,000. The foals went to full term, however, also very rare for twins.
Shortly after birth, veterinarian Rodrigo Vazquez discovered that Angel’s left front knee was damaged and needed a plastic splint created at HWAC. Vazquez said that the birth of twin foals is very rare because it can be extremely dangerous for the mare and the foals. Most twin pregnancies are interrupted around the second week of gestation to prevent a mid-term abortion.”
Helen Woodward Animal Center has set up live, streaming video at
www.ustream.tv/channel/sunnyandangeltwinfoals.
“A worldwide audience watched as the doctor, assisted by Equine Hospital Manager and Registered Veterinary Technicians Christen Hanley and Linda Blair, used a portable radiograph unit to view the bones in Angel’s knee, then wrap the knee and apply a splint,” Helen Woodward spokesman John Van Zante said. “It ran from her shoulder to her hoof.”
Vazquez has also occasionally applied splints to compensate for Sunny’s growth spurts. The splints were put on to fix the bones in Sunny’s legs, which had grown faster than the tendons. The tendons were keeping his legs from growing straight. His braces forced the legs to stay in the proper position and caused the tendons to stretch and catch up with the bones. Due to the foal’s size, there are no pre-made splints created for his smaller size. Both splints were made from lightweight PVC piping and generously padded for comfort.
Angel also had leg splints on her two front legs to prevent her legs from bowing, a much different reason than Sunny’s. Angel’s bones were not completely formed, causing her knees to buckle outward. Her braces held the legs in place until the bones could form and calcify. She then graduated from the splints to thick bandages around her legs, allowing her to bend her knee and gain strength in her front legs. Vazquez also created shoes for Angel, specially designed to keep her fetlock aligned and her front hooves from tipping up. The shoes were made from wooden splints and helped her bones align correctly.

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