By Kiri Gillespie
A set of rare twin foals born near Te Puke have stunned animal experts at their arrival and survival.
The two foals were born just over a month ago at Wakefield Equestrian on Te Matai Rd.
The fact the filly and colt have since survived, let alone were born in the first place, has been described as a "miracle".
Equestrian manager Hayley-Grace Davis was expecting just one foal from a pregnant mare when it arrived at the centre several weeks ago. When two foals were born, equestrian workers were amazed - and worried.
The odds of a horse giving birth to twins are one in 100. The chances of those twins then surviving are even rarer.
"We've got quite a few specialists quite stumped," Davis said.
Davis said there were "so many chances where it could have all gone wrong" for the foals.
"It was just luck after luck after luck. The fact I happened to see it [the birth] for starters."
Davis said there was a cold wind blowing when the foals were born and the colt's weakened body "was already beginning to shut down".
The foals were rushed to veterinary treatment before returning to the equestrian, where Davis and her team continuously hand-fed the foals day and night for two weeks.
"The little one was so weak, we had to pick him up every two hours just for him to feed. He couldn't stand on his own. We really thought he wouldn't make it.
"We just kept thinking 'When she's got strong enough we have a little bit of a celebration that at least one will pull through'. We didn't believe both would. But so long as he's fighting, we'll fight with him. Every day there's improvement."
The plucky colt, named Whiz, is notably smaller than his sister Pixie, who has a striking blue right eye. Just a month on from their birth they both run and play alongside their mother on the rolling green hills at Te Matai Rd.
Davis cares for the foals and their mother for owner Bridget Quinn until they are old enough and healthy enough to travel.
Quinn, who lives in Thames, said she did not have the appropriate facilities for foaling but was looking forward to when she could bring them home. She said Davis' efforts were incredible.
The arrival of twins was unexpected and meant double of everything, she said. She was grateful for a Givealittle page set up to help pay for veterinary costs "which was also unexpected".
Val Baker, who has horses at the equestrian, set the page up because she knew how hard it was to be "unexpectedly stuck with massive vet bills".
"You can't just put them down and you've got to give them the best chance you can," Baker said.
"It's such a miracle they have survived at all. It's just amazing."
Dr Marcus Allan from Tauranga Vets said about one in 100 mares could give birth to live twins "but it is very rare".
"Most of the time the mare will resorb one of them herself in the first month of conception. If one survives, it will often become small and die [in utero] or what is even rarer still is they will both develop reasonably well and will be born alive.
"Then there are many difficulties with the birth - it's very rare to even get to that stage, and if you do the weaker foal usually dies within a few days."
Allan said the Te Matai Rd twins were "pretty incredible".