Event rider Sacha Hourigan has identical twin horses to compete this season, in what is thought to be a first in the sport.

The five-year-old grey geldings are by Kent-based KWPN stallion Zenturio, out of Hyanie d’Aubrie, on whom Sacha came second at Barrocca CCI3* in March 2008.

“Caroline Richardson kindly bred them for me, from the amazing mare she bought me,” Sacha told H&H.

“The mare was scanned not in foal and full of cysts — but hiding behind two of the cysts were two foals!”

An autumn scan revealed that “Annie” was in foal, although still only one foetus could be seen, but by April, Mrs Richardson was sure something was different, as “I’ve never seen a horse as big as she was!”

Annie also looked uncomfortable, which had not been the case with previous pregnancies, but luckily, Mrs Richardson was on the scene when she foaled, as the second colt was “bent double”.

“I managed to get him out before the vet came,” Mrs Richardson said.

Sacha said neither horse is small; one stands at 15.3hh and the other is 16.1hh, which she described as a “real miracle”.

It is extremely rare for twin foals to survive to term. Breeders are usually advised to have one of the embryos “pinched”, or removed, during pregnancy, owing to the high probability of losing one or both foals, as well as the mare. The usual outcome is for the weaker twin to be stillborn, or very weak and survive for only a short time, while even the stronger one may have issues caused by a low birth weight and fail to thrive.

But “Annie” and both her offspring survived. “She’s Anglo-Arab, and I think they’re tough,” said Sacha.

“We were worried of course, and the foals were frail, but we knew they were going to live; they had this amazing strong look in their eye.”

She plans to take Twice as Nice and Double Act (stables names Eric and Ernie) showjumping, and get them out eventing later in the season, but not in the age classes, “because they’re not horses to be sold, they’re horses for the future”.

Sacha describes the horses as identical. “They’re grey, but they’re going to go white very quickly,” she added.

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But dressage and fence judges need not worry about doing a double-take.

“They will probably do different first events — we’ll split them, so they’re not clingy,” Sacha explained.

By Flora Watkins

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