ON the 27th day of the holy month of Ramadan, eight people gathered around a rustic stable in Philippi to witness the rarest of sights – the birth of healthy twin foals.

First, the world was a brown filly richer, and then witnesses were left speechless when a white palomino colt followed suit.
The general consensus online is that, when it comes to horses, 1 in 10 000 pregnancies are twins – and only nine percent of those are carried to term.
An even smaller number are actually born healthy, so the fact that this “next generation” is now frolicking in the fields of Zandvlei Farm fills owner Moosa Ockards with pride. “It was a bright, starry evening, and when the foals were born we were also glowing,” he smiles.

Ockards had been attending a religious event that night, but he was constantly on his cellphone, giving advice to those who were delivering the young horses.
Nobody had suspected that the mare, Popplin, had been carrying twins, so when Ockards heard there was another little miracle on the stable floor, he was very excited.
But his vast equine experience told him that this latest development would need all the accumulated knowledge he has garnered over the decades, since a twin pregnancy is considered to be very dangerous for the mare and her offspring.

According to horseadvice.com’s Robert Oglesby, a twin pregnancy in horses is generally bad news.
“The uterus has a hard time supporting twins,” says Oglesby. “Foals are often born dead or weak, and other complications include retained placenta, delayed recovery of the uterus, decreased rate of settling for the next two years, and potentially permanent damage to the mare’s reproductive tract.”

In most cases of live births, either one or both foals don’t survive beyond two weeks.
People’s Post visited the farm last Thursday, and saw that each of the adorable foals was, well, as healthy as a horse. They were exploring the tiny stable and liaising with their vigilant mom on a regular basis.
On one occasion the brown filly chewed on this journalist’s camera strap, which drew an authoritative and abrupt neighing from the ever-vigilant Popplin.

On whether the presently unnamed twins and their mother will suffer any delayed health problems, Ockards just says, “We will have to see what God has in store for them.”
Ockards owns several of the 23 horses on the farm, and most of these are used as carthorses. Ockards learned everything he knows about the animals from his father, and he says the last time he heard of twins being born was in the late 1970s.
Diana Truter and all the other staff of the Carthorse Protection Agency (CHPA) were just as amazed at Popplin’s feat.
“I’ve been working with horses almost my entire life, and this is the first time that I have seen twins born healthy,” says a glowing Truter.

The most difficult and dangerous time for the mare and foals has passed, but latent health issues might still put a damper on celebrations.
Be that as it may, Truter is confident that Ockards’ vast experience and “family secrets” will see them through.
He laughs when asked to reveal some of these secrets.

“Well, one of the reasons some foals die during birth is because their tongues are still stuck to the inside of the mouth. That’s when one can put a little milk on one’s finger and feed the youngsters.”
The first few sips of mother’s milk are the most important in a foal’s life, since it contains a concentrated amount of nutrients, antibodies and immune system boosters.

“I think the fact that this happened in Ramadan is a blessing for Moosa,” Truter says, “and I think he deserves that blessing, since he has helped so many other people in his life.
“In fact, if all the carthorse owners were as diligent as Moosa, the role of the CHPA would be severely diminished.”
The CHPA is based in northern suburbs of Epping, but it keeps an eye over most of the carthorses in the Southern Peninsula as well.

Ockards will soon give names to the little miracles, and then the CHPA will set up a Facebook page to keep the public up to date with how these statistical oddities are enriching the lives of those who have helped them to thrive in a fascinating world.