Thursday, 25 October 2012

Presentation by Dr Carrie Finno on HWSS

On 13th October 2012 Dr Carrie Finno presented the outcome of her research on HWSS to the members of the American Connemara Pony Society at their Annual Meeting.    The presentation was well received by the audience.  For many of the participants this was the first information that they had seen with regards to the reality of  HWSS.  It is difficult when working on a project to not become submerged in the topic and remember that something which has taken up a good amount of one's own time, is often not known about in the wider community.  
A call was made at the meeting for further blood samples to be submitted for the study. One hopes that owners and breeders will rally to the call.  This has certainly been the case in Germany where the representative of this group has today dispatched samples from a further 28 ponies.  Another shipment is planned so if you and your ponies live in Germany and you would like to help to be part of the solution to the HWSS problem, contact the group and your details will be passed onto the person coordinating the shipments.

If there are any Connemara people in France or the UK who would be prepared to help by shipping blood samples we would really like you to contact the group.   France and the UK are the two largest Connemara pony breeding nations after Ireland. Both countries have tended to concentrate their breeding programmes on bloodlines that are less popular than those in other European countries.  It would be very interesting (and possibly advantageous) to be able to screen these populations also.

Dr Finno has kindly given permission for  a pdf version of her presentation to be posted on this blog.   Of course the pdf contains the slides only and thus does not have her explanations and commentary to explain some of the points made.  Dr Finno. HWSS Presentation 13th October 2012

In the presentation Dr Finno: 

  • explains the signs of HWSS
  • shows the feet of two ponies which were examined at UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
  • Shows the cross-section of an affected hoof.  The lesions shown there are 'typical' of all HWSS cases.  It shows quite obviously that the breakdown is within the layers of the hoof wall and does not involve the white-line in any way.
  • Genetic terminology, modes of inheritance and where HWSS fits in the wider scheme of things is explained.
  • on the bottom of slide 23 is an ambiguous, to those not at the meeting, sounding statement.  The explanation is that there is no record of any person breeding two affected ponies together so the outcome of such a mating is not known. 
  • HWSS is autosomal recessive; other autosomal recessive conditions in horses are discussed.  Dr Finno was one of the principal people responsible for finding the genetic marker for (HERDA) and getting this commercially available to breeders.  Also discussed is Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (GBED) and Overo Lethal White Syndrome (OLWS).
  • Explains how genetic research is undertaken.  Slide 39, point 3 explains why more samples are needed.
  • Explains what you can do to help to eliminate HWSS from the Connemara pony population with no loss of genetic variation.