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Mare with pacemaker gives birth

The seven-year-old mare, Xena, who was fitted with a pacemaker last February in the first operation of its kind in the UK, has given birth to a healthy foal.

The foaling was closely monitored by veterinary surgeons at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire.

A member of the vet team, Mark Bowen, said: “She got very tired when she started to foal but we were able to adjust her heart rate via the pacemaker as needed. Apart from that, the foaling was quite unremarkable.

“The mare did become anxious after the birth because we had to be with her – and that did interfere with the bonding process. But she is a very foal-proud mother and the two have bonded well now. ”

Xena,was fitted with the pacemaker after she collapsed with a rare condition in equines known as “complete heart block”. The Irish Draught/ Thoroughbred was already in foal to the showjumping stallion, Renkum Valentino.

The pacemaker is the size of a book of matches and sits under the skin on the horse’s neck. A wire follows the jugular vein down to the heart.

The mare and foal, who was named Viper, are expected to return home soon to part-time breeder and actor, Asier Cebeira.

Xena will no longer be able to be ridden but is expected to live a fairly normal life in a field.

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