Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Gentle Reminder

Clifden Show week is beginning on Sunday.  This is a time when much purchasing of Connemara Ponies has been the norm. The genetic test for HWSS will not be available before the end of the  year, so any pony buyers will still need to use visual criteria to assess whether a pony is HWSS affected or not; there is no way of physically assessing carrier status.
So here are a few suggestions for onsite assessment:
  • Only consider young stock and/or breeding ponies presented without shoes and without hoof black. 
  • Be extremely wary of ponies which are shod and not in work, especially youngstock.
  • Do not accept any reasons/excuses about the farrier 'trimming the feet too short the last time he/she was out'.  Feet that are too short is a 'red flag'.
  • Any chipping or peeling away of the outer hoof wall is a red flag.
  • Pick up the feet yourself and have a look at the structure of the hoof wall between the white line and the outer hoof wall (see photo below).
  • Look at the environment the ponies are living in. Boggy conditions masks the issue.
  • Hoof black can be used to hide the use of hoof fillers - shod and hoof blacked 'red flag'.
For those purchasing from a distance (ie not personal inspection or through an agent) ask for not only conformation photos and videos, but close up pictures of feet - unshod and not blacked, and taken with the pony standing on concrete.
Here is a picture which demonstrates that the splitting occurs within in the structures of the hoof wall and not at the white line.  This photograph comes from a Swedish HWSS site with many good quality photographs of HWSS feet.  Even with short and newly trimmed feet (a prime method used to attempt to disguise HWSS), any sign of fissures should be classed as a 'red flag'.  Normal feet do not do this.

Another important factor to consider is the genetic inheritance of the pony/ies you may wish to buy. The higher the level of inbreeding, the higher the chances are of ponies carrying recessive genes.

Checkout An Analysis of the Sire Lines Represented in the 2013 CPBS Class 1 Stallion List if you want to found out just how dire the inbreeding issue is.