Friday, June 29, 2018

Gee Whiz by More Than Luck

Gee Whiz, shown here at Blenheim as a six year old. Photo by Amy McCool.
Tish Quirk would like to extend the warmest congratulations to team Gee Whiz! Gee Whiz, by More Than Luck, out of Amerika 7 by Acord I, just won the Seven-Year-Old competitions at Blenheim EquiSports. Gee Whiz was bred and is owned by Linda I. Smith. He's ridden by Trudi Allen and trained by Hap Hansen. Click to watch a round:

Gee Whiz is continuing on from his successes in 2017, when he was the USEF Six-Year-Old Jumper National Horse of the Year.

Gee Whiz is one of many successful offspring of More Than Luck, a Dutch Warmblood stallion bred by Tish Quirk. With his excellent bloodlines, More Than Luck is an exceptionally versatile and athletic stallion who passes on his best qualities. 

Sire of Gee Whiz: More Than Luck, 1994 Dutch Warmblood by Best of Luck.

To visit More Than Luck's Stallion Profile on, click here.

To find out more about Tish Quirk and her stallions and breeding program, visit

Foundation Sire: Quidam de Revel

This is the ninth installment of Warmblood Stallions of North America’s Foundation Friday. Every other Friday we will be featuring a foundation sire - one who has been influential in the development of warmblood breeds. We pull from the incredible archive of The Horse Magazine, published by Chris Hector of Australia. Thank you, Chris, for permission to draw on your expertise! 

Foundation Sire: Quidam de Revel
1982 – 2014
169 cm
Breeder: Le Prince Amaury De Broglie

In 2004, Quidam de Revel topped the World Breeding Championships Jumping Stallion ratings for the second year running, establishing himself as the pre-eminent – and most expensive – living sire of jumping horses. With ten (!) of his progeny jumping in Jerez 2002, he was the stallion with the most number of progeny at the WEG.

A decade later, Quidam was still a force at the London Olympic Games but more through his sons. Quidam was himself a jumping star, a member of the French Olympic Team, and fourth individually at the Barcelona Olympic Games with Hervé Godignon. A year later the patriotic French breeders were shocked when Danish businessman Flemming Velin purchased the stallion and he moved to stand in Denmark.

But Mr Velin got more than a breeding stallion, he purchased the ultimate "school-master" for his son, Thomas, taking him on to win such prestigious events as the Grand Prix of Hannover. According to Thomas: “The feeling I got from Quidam has taught me what it should feel like to sit on a really good horse. If you have not had that experience, you simply cannot imagine what it can be like. When in the air, if needed, Quidam could just… like put in another gear, make another effort and jump higher still even after taking off from the ground.”

Quidam de Revel unites two of the most important lines of the Selle Français horse – the lines of Jalisco and Uriel. The Nankin son Uriel was one of the most successful French stallions, producing more than 100 international showjumpers, which gave him a jumping index of 121, the highest recorded in France at the time. 

In the survey of the world’s top 75 jumping sires that appears in the French publication Monneron 2007-2008, Quidam de Revel was Number 1 with 48 CSI winners and he was also represented by two sons. Nabab de Reve (out of an Artichaut mare) is 18th with 14 CSI winners, while Guidam (out of a Vénutard mare) ranks 19th with 12 winners, including Authentic, second best performer in the world in 2006 and winner of the Grand Prix of Aachen in 2007.

As a sign of the times, Quidam de Revel is listed in the 2015 Hanoverian Stallion Yearbook, where he is recorded as having 402 competitors with winnings of €1,898,770 with 138 competing at S level. He has 27 horses with over €15,000 in prizemoney. 

As of this writing (2014), Quidam had an FN jumping breeding value of 139. His dressage ranking was 85. On the Hanoverian mare test scores, he had a negative 79 for type, and even a negative 95 for limbs. On the Hanoverian values based on mare tests and auction examinations, he had a 79 for dressage and 143 for jumping.

On the WBFSH stallion rankings for 2014, Quidam de Revel was in 10th with by far his most successful representative, Verdi. On the WBFSH rankings for 2016, Quidam had just slipped out of the top ten, to 11th, with his best representative, Sterrehof’s Calimero (Libero).

At the European Championships in 2013, he was represented by Verdi, who finished in 21st on the individual standings. Verdi was also a member of the Dutch Gold Medal winning team at the WEG in Caen, and the highest-ranked Dutch horse at the London Games.

In the magazine le Selle Français (no 16 – 1st Trimestre 2013), Bernard le Courtois looked at the top 15 stallions of the 2012 season and Quidam was top of the list, with 8 winners in the season – equal with Kannan. However, he ranked 7th on the list of stallions ranked by the number of winners to number of progeny – with 8 out of 425 foals born between 1999 – 2003, a ratio of 1.88%.

To read the entire article, with pedigree and more offspring details, on the Horse Magazine website, click here. Read to the end, where author Chris Hector talks about the 2005 clone of Quidam de Revel, Paris-Texas, who stands at Joris Brabander's Stal de Muze, and why they don't use him much for breeding.

There are several stallion descendants of Quidam de Revel in North America. Click on the following links to read about each of the ones on


HH Rebozo

HH Dark de la Hart

Chin Quidam VDL

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Stellar: Shining Bright

Article by Sara Brooks, originally published in Pony Quarterly magazine; reprinted with permission.

Stellar: it’s a word that means “exceptionally good, outstanding,” and “featuring or having the quality of star performer.” Though his name may be a mere coincidence, a more befitting word could not exist to describe Mary Procopio’s Haflinger stallion Stellar TVR, who is working his way towards FEI-level competition with accomplished dressage trainer Tracy Rowe. I made the trip to Stellar’s home at Rowe Stables in Okemos, Michigan and was pleased to find that not only does Stellar live up to his name and beyond, but also that Mary and Tracy have forged a wonderful, respectful partnership that allows Stellar to reach his fullest potential.

Stellar came to the United States from Austria alongside his dam, and when he became available to purchase as a two-year-old, Mary seized the opportunity to include him in her breeding program. She knew that he had a lot to offer the Haflinger breed in North America, and her commitment to the quality of the breed also allowed her to view Stellar through the lens of future development and enrichment of modern Haflingers and their capabilities both from a pleasure and competition standpoint.

“I got him as a two-year old,” Mary explains, “and then when he turned three, I decided to present him to the warmblood registries in addition to our [Haflinger] breed registry.” After learning about the German sporthorse registries, Mary decided that it would give more credibility to Stellar from a breeding perspective if he could gain entrance into the German studbooks, since these registries offered a distinct legitimacy that cannot be achieved elsewhere. In addition to being licensed and approved through the American Haflinger Registry and the American Warmblood Society, Stellar is also the first Haflinger stallion in North America to be lifetime licensed and approved through the German registries Westfalen N.A. and Weser Ems and to be performance tested through the 30-day North American Pony Stallion Testing. He is included in their highest stud books, and he has produced 100% Premium foals with Westfalen N.A., including four Gold Premium foals, four Silver Premium foals, two Site Inspection Champion foals and a Book I mare approved for breeding. He successfully completed his first competition season at First Level with Tracy, and the two are planning for the push to the upper levels now that he is nine years old and at a point in his training wherein the foundation laid by Tracy can begin to produce the muscular and mental development needed for FEI-level work.  

I had been looking forward to meeting Stellar since getting to know him through my work with Mary and Tracy on a previous article, but I could not have prepared myself for how truly wonderful he is in person. I expected to be blown away by his beauty, which I was, but I was impressed more than anything with his demeanor. From the moment that Tracy opened his stall door and invited me in, Stellar was the consummate gentleman. He looked towards Tracy to make sure that I was “okay,” and then carefully reached his muzzle out to greet me. As Tracy and I stood there talking, he was attentive and patient. His soft brown eyes peeked out from below his flowing, golden forelock and, he carefully moved his focus to whoever was speaking; occasionally reaching out to touch us and let us know that he was a part of the conversation, too. Though I struggle to find the right word to describe Stellar and how truly magical he is, I immediately sensed the special quality which makes him so exciting.

Stellar with a young fan after winning the stallion class at the National Dressage Pony Cup.
Mary arrived shortly after my meeting with Stellar, and as I sat down with Mary and Tracy to begin our interview, I noted the quality of their partnership with respect to Stellar. The level of respect between Mary and Tracy is almost tangible, and they each light up when they speak about Stellar and their plans for him. A long-time proponent for the Haflinger breed and an accomplished FEI dressage trainer and competitor, respectively, Mary and Tracy are both well-spoken, intelligent, and very focused in their commitment to Stellar and what they know he can achieve for the Haflinger breed.

“I’m not just appealing to Haflinger people,” says Mary. “I’m trying to educate people on what the breed is capable of and hopefully get others from outside of the breed to become interested in these smaller warmblood horses.”

“People think that only the German Riding Pony could possibly do dressage and that’s totally untrue,” explains Tracy. “It’s so good that Mary got him out there and did what she did, because it’s proving that Stellar can compete even with the ponies that are bred specifically for dressage. He’s hanging right in there.”

I asked Mary and Tracy each to describe Stellar, and it became clear immediately that his personality governs his success. “Who he is who he is,” Tracy says, matter-of-factly. “He is the most willing, kind stallion that I have ever been around. We have had stallions here since I was born and he is the kindest out of all of them; he is gentle and kind.”

“When I got him he was 2 years old and of course the hormones are starting to kick in,” Mary explains. “I had never had a stallion before, and I brought him home to my farm and thought ‘okay, so now I have a stallion here with all of my mares.’ It was only because of his temperament that I was able to do that.”

“He’s stabled with mares and I ride him with mares,” Tracy adds. “He has stallion behaviors, of course – he’ll talk, but he’s not allowed to be rude. He’s a rule follower,” she says, laughing.

“I can do anything I want with him and I never have to worry about him being a jerk in any way.” Mary agrees that Stellar’s personality is his best attribute. He moved around a lot in his early years, especially before he became a part of Mary’s program, and did not always necessarily have the best experiences. In fact, there was a period of time wherein he learned not to trust his rider and Tracy worked very hard to guide him back to a place wherein he felt comfortable. However, he has never faltered in his kindness and his willingness to please, and this has continued to be his most redeeming quality as his training progresses and his legitimacy grows from a breeding perspective.

Stellar competing at the 2017 National Dressage Pony Cup. Karen Barnard photo
Stellar is no slouch in the competition ring, either. He and Tracy completed their first season of competition at First Level and she is continually impressed by his willing attitude and trainability. They plan to use their momentum from this season to continue his training and begin their journey to FEI-level competition. “Now is the time because he is going to be ten,” explains Tracy. “Mary and I have talked about it quite a bit and this is the time to begin pushing him to advance. The plan is to now start thinking upper level. That is going to be the push. This time in a horse’s training – and it doesn’t matter what the breed – this time from now until they’re confirmed third level is the longest period in their training. Now we are going to wait and see what Stellar can do and make choices from there. The goal is FEI, and ultimately, it’s up to Stellar. He will not be pushed to a point where he is an unhappy horse – always taking his health and well-being into consideration. Stellar is more than willing to do what I ask as long as he understands, and it’s just taking the time to foster his understanding. It’s muscle development and mental prep to get there.”

“He’s doing great,” says Tracy. “He is still representing the breed fantastically, and he’s still holding his own. The last time I checked, he was 78th out of all First Level dressage horses in open competition with the United States Dressage Federation; there are lots and lots of those. We’re talking $100,000 Prix St. Georges horses that are showing First Level, and he is in the middle of the pack – for a Haflinger to come in and be where he is with all the best open professional dressage horses at First Level in the United States? That says something.”

Stellar as 2017 National Dressage Pony Cup DSHB Reserve Grand Champion. Mary Procopio photo
Following my conversation with Mary and Tracy at Tracy’s beautiful farm, Mary invited me to visit her mares and foals at New Horizons Haflingers and I happily obliged. As we pulled into her driveway, I noticed happy golden ponies everywhere: mares in foal feasting on lush grass in the front pasture, and elsewhere foals frolicking alongside their mothers as the breeze danced through the air, ruffling their soft, fuzzy manes as they played.

As Mary led me from pasture to pasture and introduced me to her Haflingers, we spoke about Stellar and his offspring. Two are of competition age – one in Alaska, one in Montana – and Mary has a three-year-old that will be next in line. “He passes on a really strong hindquarter and loin connection,” Mary explains, “which is something that our breed really needs because for a long time it’s something that people were not paying attention to. Conformationally, that really gives them the movement from behind.” Mary is selective about Stellar’s breeding and is excited about the fact that so many people are interested in Stellar and his babies. Most of his foals are sold before they are even born, and in addition to breeding him to her own mares, Mary offers him to a select number of private individuals within his breeding season. She makes sure to ask questions of prospective owners regarding how the pony will be used, and what the owners hope to achieve by breeding their mares to Stellar. It is clear that Mary recognizes how special Stellar is and considers all implications, present and future, when making decisions about breeding.

I spoke to both Mary and Tracy a lot about Stellar’s legacy and what he means to future of his breed. “One of my big things in promoting Stellar is to promote the breed itself,” Mary explains. “When I first got into this, people thought of Haflingers as smaller, stockier types. I would hope that down the road, the legacy would be that people will realize that Haflingers do possess the quality to go out and compete against other breeds, and that Stellar was really one of the first Haflingers to do that successfully.” Tracy, too, hopes that Stellar will continue to break barriers and show people that it’s time to abandon the long-accepted idea that high-dollar horses are necessary to go out and be competitive. “Any horse with enough heart and willingness can reach the upper levels. That is really kind of my life mission and Stellar is a part of that,” she says.

As I drove home following my day with Stellar, Tracy, Mary, and the ponies of New Horizons Haflingers, I couldn’t help but smile as I noticed the cluster of blonde hairs stuck to my jeans pant leg leftover from my foal cuddling, and appreciated the fact that I had gotten a glimpse into the life of a pony as special as Stellar TVR. Everything about Stellar, from his personality to “his people” to his playful foals, is just that – stellar. He is incredibly important to the future of Haflingers and to sport pony breeding, and the work that Mary and Tracy are doing with Stellar will span generations. I am excited to see how his career, and the partnership between these two lovely, genuine horsewomen grows and lends itself to the achievement of whatever Stellar sets out to do in the world. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to both Mary and Tracy for being so accommodating to me, and for inviting [my readers] to witness such a splendid pony as Stellar.

For details about Stellar, click here to visit his Stallion Profile on

Friday, June 15, 2018

KWPN to Pilot a Program of Crossing Dutch and Spanish Horses posted an article in March about the KWPN's new pilot program to try crossing Dutch Warmbloods with Andalusian and Lusitano horses. Specifically, owners of PRE and PSL horses can breed to Dutch stallions. It's an interesting outcross that would widen the gene pool.

The KWPN society has announced that it will begin a pilot project in which it will cross Dutch warmblood lines with PRE (Andalusian) and PSL (Lusitano) lines in order to create a wider gene pool within the Dutch warmblood breed.

Read the full article here.

Foundation Sire: Inschallah

This is the eighth installment of Warmblood Stallions of North America’s Foundation Friday. Every other Friday we will be featuring a foundation sire - one who has been influential in the development of warmblood breeds. We pull from the incredible archive of The Horse Magazine, published by Chris Hector of Australia. Thank you, Chris, for permission to draw on your expertise! 

Foundation Sire: Inschallah
1968 – 1990
169 cm
Breeder: J. Guicheney

Inschallah was a French-bred grey Anglo Arab (36% Arab) who was exported from France to Oldenburg, where he became the most important sire next to Furioso II at the famous Vorwerk stallion station in Cappeln. He stood there from 1970 to 1990. In 1972 he won his stallion performance test in Westercelle.
Among his 30-some licensed sons are Indonese, a highly successful Grand Prix stallion; Ile de Bourbon and Inervall, two advanced (S) level winning show jumpers; and Inselfürst, who won his stallion performance test. He was the sire of the Swedish Olympic horse, Inferno. Inschallah AA also sired more than 70 premium mares and a great number of horses that were highly successful in sport.
Inschallah was approved for breeding by the Oldenburg Verband as well as Hanoverian Verband, Trakehner, Westfalen, Hessichen (Hessen) and Rhineland Verbands.
Inschallah was a large-framed horse with enormous gaits, producing a more rounded movement, with higher knee action and a reaching forward stride as opposed to the flat leg movement of earlier times.
His progeny’s winnings in Europe amounted to almost one million DM. He sired over 30 licensed sons but has emerged as a more important broodmare sire – Rohdiamant and his full brother, Royal Diamond, are both out of Inschallah mares.
In 1995, Germany’s former Oldenburg breeding manager, Dr Roland Ramsauer, said “Inschallah blood is currently very popular with European breeders. Inschallah’ s impeccable temperament has been successfully and consistently showing up in generation after generation of his offspring. Breeders have discovered that although there are excellent moving stallions available, there have been some problems with unsuitable temperament. The Inschallah blood produces enormous gaits and solid conformation, but it also produces very suitable sport horse temperament.”
Inschallah’s son Istafan, who was represented at the European Showjumping Championships 2015 by his son Isti, is very much a product of the breeding program of the great Georg Vorwerk: by Inschallah, out of a mare by Furioso II out of a mare by the Verwerk’s great Thoroughbred sire, More Magic xx.

To read the entire article, with pedigree and more offspring details, on the Horse Magazine website, click here.
There are several stallion descendants of Inschallah in North America. Click on the following links to read about each of the ones on


Royal Prince

Royal Prinz

Monday, June 11, 2018

Young Jumping Horse classes: What can they tell us?

Christopher Hector has just posted another interesting new article on The Horse Magazine's website - this one about the Young Jumping Horse Classes in Europe. He brings in two contributors as well - Thomas Hartwig and Gemma Alexander - so the scope is quite extensive.

History, examples, opinions!

Did you know that until the 1970s, "German jumping horse breeding was not significantly better than in Ireland, Great Britain or France"? That's according to Thomas Hartwig, co-author of this article, and he credits the German Springpferdeprüfungen - young horse jumping classes - with turning that around. German coach Herbert Meyer calls them, "Maybe the best thing that has happened to German jumping in recent decades.

As we in North America think about ways to improve our path from breeder to competitor to international winner, looking at programs like this can help.

Read the whole article by clicking here.

The Race to Le Lion: YEH Champions Contest for the Holekamp/Turner Grant

June 5, 2018 Article by Kate Lokey on

Quantum Leap is the currently the highest place horse from the 2016 YEH Championships that is qualified to compete at Le Lion d'Angers. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

The Holekamp/Turner Grant is just a few months away from being awarded to the next U.S. Young Event Horse star to represent the United States at the 2018 FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses at Le Mondial du Lion d’Angers in France. In 2012, the USEA announced that this new grant would be aimed at supporting a pipeline of developing horses for the U.S. Eventing Team.

To read about this year's contenders and more about the program and the Mondial du Lion d'Angers Championships, click here.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Five Spanish Purebred Horses Named for World Young Horse Championships

Jose Daniel Martin Dockx and Mejorano HGF, Purebred Spanish Horse selected to compete at the World Young Horse Championships. © 2018 Lily Forado

Posted on

Five Purebred Spanish horses were named Thursday by Spain for the World Young Horse Championships in Ermelo, Netherlands, Aug. 2-5, including the seven-year-old Mejorano HGF owned by Hampton Green Farm of the United States.

Visit to read more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome is a topic of importance among breeders. Information about this genetic defect is scattered among many sources. Below are some answers to the most frequently-asked questions. 

What is Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS or FFS)?

Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS) is a fatal disorder caused by a genetic defect. The defective gene is one that is critical in the production of collagen. 
Affected foals have "hyperextensible, abnormally thin, fragile skin and mucous membranes (tissue that lines cavities and covers organs) that cause extensive lesions throughout the body. ...Signs of the disease are present from birth. Newborn foals have to be euthanized." [UC Davis website. See also the list of resources for breeders for other informational sites. For details of how the mutated gene interferes with the formation of healthy tissues, see "How does this genetic defect actually work?" at the bottom of this page.]

WFFS is a recessive trait, which in this case means that horses can be:

  • N/N - they have two copies of the dominant allele (version of the gene). They do not have or carry WFFS and cannot pass it on to their offspring. They are clear of the mutation.
  • WFFS/N - they have one allele with the WFFS mutation and one without. They are perfectly normal, but are able to pass the mutation on to their offspring some of the time. Horses who are WFFS/N are carriers of the mutation but do not have the defect.
  • WFFS/WFFS - they have the defect and probably are aborted before they are born in most cases. If they are born, they are as described above and must be euthanized. There are no adult horses with WFFS/WFFS status, because they do not survive.
Because WFFS is recessive, in order to get a foal with the defect you would have to breed a carrier to a carrier. If you breed a carrier to a horse that is clear of the gene, you will never get a foal with the defect. 

How does a horse get WFFS?

A horse gets WFFS by inheriting it. The only way to get it is if both the sire and dam of the horse are carriers of WFFS. WFFS is not caused by a "bug" and is not contagious.

What is the difference between "having" WFFS and being a carrier?

Only a foal with two copies of the defective allele (versions of the gene) "has" WFFS. A fetus who has WFFS will often be reabsorbed or aborted. If a foal is born "with" WFFS, he or she will show the symptoms and will not live. 

A carrier has only one copy of the defective allele, and one copy of the normal allele. Carriers do not "have" WFFS and are normal and healthy. There have been no formal studies of carriers and possible related health issues, but it is known that there are many international competitors who are careers. 

Is WFFS really a disease?

Technically it is, because part of the definition of "disease" is "a disorder of structure or function ... not simply a direct result of physical injury." WFFS is certainly a disorder of structure and function. But it's not a disease the way most people think of a disease, like flu or E. coli or cancer. 

The clearer terms for WFFS would be syndrome, disorder, or genetic defect.

Is WFFS limited to warmbloods?

No. WFFS should probably be known as Fragile Foal Syndrome, because it has been identified not only in all warmblood populations (including those with more closed books like Trakehner and Holsteiner), but also several other breeds including Thoroughbreds. 

Is WFFS the same as HERDA?

No. HERDA (hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia) is also an autosomal recessive genetic defect, but found in American Quarter Horses (especially cutting lines) and related breeds. Unlike WFFS, it manifests usually in the second year. As with WFFS, there is no cure.

Although they are not the same, Dr. Nena Winand, who has studied both WFFS and HERDA, recommends "testing any horses at risk for HERDA before breeding to warmbloods, and not crossing carriers of these two disorders. Avoid crossing a mare that tested positive for the WFFS1 or the HERDA mutated gene with a stallion that tested positive for the WFFS1 or the HERDA mutated gene." [from Q & A with Dr. Nena Winand on WFFS]

Will my horse get WFFS from another horse who is a carrier?

No. WFFS is not caused by viruses or bacteria and is not at all contagious. It is not a "disease" in that sense; it is a genetic defect.

Do carriers get sick?

No, carriers do not get sick. As far as we currently know, being a carrier has no effect at all on the horse, and there are many highly successful horses who are carriers. 

How do I know if my horse is a carrier?

There is a DNA test that you can have done by submitting a hair sample. Click here for a list of WFFS resources. Near the bottom of the page are links for the testing labs. Make sure to use a lab that is licensed and qualified to perform the test.

Should I test my riding horses?

Even if your horse is a carrier, it should have no effect on him or her, or the training or competition career. However, testing and reporting any horse contributes to the knowledge base on WFFS and its frequency and distribution in the population. The more complete the picture, the better the information we have to use and make breeding decisions.

How long has WFFS been around?

According to the scientist who discovered the mutation, Dr. Nena Winand, the first mutation of the gene happened about 170 years ago. 

Do we know who the first horse was who had the gene mutation?

Identifying the horse who first had the mutation would require extensive research and pedigree tracking. We may never know for sure who that "original" horse was. For practical purposes today, the knowledge is irrelevant, since the mutation now exists in all warmblood breeds and some others, including some Thoroughbred populations.

How long have we known about it?

The mutation was identified in 2011: the specific gene where it occurs. There were cases described earlier, not identified at the time as WFFS, that probably were WFFS. There has been a test for it since 2013.

There has been some awareness of WFFS in Europe since it was identified, but how much is not known. It did not achieve the status of common knowledge, or the level of open discussion we have now.

In 2018 a foal by Everdale, belonging to US breeder Mary Nuttall, was born with WFFS and had to be euthanized. The breeding had been handled by Hilltop Farm, and they and Mary Nuttall promptly announced to the world that this had happened. Hilltop Farm went further and tested all their stallions, one of which - Sternlicht - was found to be a carrier, and Hilltop removed him from breeding, at least for 2018. That precipitated the current level of awareness of WFFS.

What does WFFS mean for breeders?

WFFS is a topic of importance among breeders, because it will be breeders who will be managing WFFS by the decisions they make. Much of the current discussion of WFFS concerns these questions and decisions, and opinions vary a lot. Some breeders really believe that it's a big fuss over nothing. On the opposite extreme, some believe that every carrier should be removed from breeding. Each breeder needs to understand WFFS enough to make responsible breeding decisions.

How many horses are carriers for WFFS?

Reports vary, but among warmblood populations between 9% and 19% of horses are being reported as carriers of WFFS world-wide.

Can we stamp out WFFS?

It might be possible to stamp out WFFS, but it's unlikely. It would be necessary to remove every carrier from breeding, and that is unlikely to ever happen. The costs would be prohibitive, including the loss of valuable animals from the genetic pool of warmbloods, and the cost to individual breeders of losing breeding animals.

Why are all known carriers not immediately taken from breeding?

There are several reasons to avoid removing all carriers from breeding. 

First, it would require the removal of something like 10% of the warmblood gene pool from breeding. Genetic diversity is important, and among warmbloods the diversity is not all that extensive to begin with. Losing 10% would not be good. 

Second, genetic defects happen, and there are others in this population, and new ones could develop. If you remove all carriers of all defects from breeding, you'd be looking at losing even more than 10% of your population from breeding. 

Third, you would not only be losing 10% of your breeding animals, you'd be losing some individuals that are extremely valuable in what they contribute to the improvement of sport horses. Roemer, who stood at Iron Spring Farm and was a Preferent stallion who had a strong positive influence on the quality of dressage horses, was a carrier

Fourth, the removal of an animal from a breeding program means a significant loss for the individual breeder, in dollar cost, time and planning invested, and an immediate loss of productivity. Having to remove a mare out of your breeding program would be a significant loss for any breeder, and for a single mare owner it would be devastating. Having to remove more than one, or your best one, would mean an additional reduction of your business's value, with the loss of important future sales.

If we don't stamp out WFFS, how do we live with it?

WFFS can be managed so that there is no risk of producing a foal with both WFFS genes: the lethal condition. An affected foal can only be conceived when both sire and dam are carriers. If breeders have a carrier mare, they must only breed her to stallions who are clear. A carrier crossed with a clear horse has a zero percent chance of producing an affected foal.

Dr. Kareen Heineking-Schütte, a veterinarian and managing director of a breeding, sales and training facility in Germany, recommends continuing to breed this generation of mares and stallions, including carriers. Then choose non-carriers for breeding stock over the next generations. She advocates "keeping preferably non-carrier fillies" and for stallions, "chose from the best sons preferably those who are non-carriers." ["Two Cents about WFFS," eurodressage] This is a gradual reduction of carriers among the breeding population that is also supported by Dr. Nena Winand, one of the world's experts on WFFS. ("See also Should Carriers be 'culled'?" below.)

Should carriers be "culled"?

To clarify terminology, "cull" is a term that means "selectively slaughter." A more accurate term in the context of WFFS would be "remove from breeding." 

To remove all carriers from breeding is not practical or advisable (see "Why are all known carriers not immediately removed from breeding?" above). According to Dr. Nena Winand, who has studies both WFFS and HERDA, "Perhaps over time outstanding horses that are non-carriers can be sought out [for breeding] and the carrier frequency can be slowly reduced if necessary, but this type of change is best effected over many generations."

Should I stop breeding my carrier mare?

While it is safe to breed a carrier mare to a clear stallion (see below, "I have a carrier mare. Is it safe to breed her"), individual breeders may wish to remove WFFS from the future generations they produce. To do that they would remove their carrier mares from their breeding program. If they then breed their clear mares only to clear stallions, their future generations will all be clear of the defect.

How do I find out if my mare is a carrier?

Testing is available, and some warmblood registries in the US have arrangements with testing labs for members to have tests done at reduced rates. Make sure to use a licensed and qualified lab for testing. Click here to view a page of WFFS resources, with testing labs listed near the end of the page.

I have a carrier mare. Is it safe to breed her?

Yes, if you choose a stallion that is clear of the defect (N/N). "Safe" means that If you breed a carrier to a clear horse, you have zero chance of having an affected foal.

I want to breed my carrier mare but only to a clear stallion. How do I find out if a stallion is a carrier?

More and more information about stallion WFFS status will be published as more people become aware of its importance in breeding decisions - and as more mare owners ask for the information. According to Dr. Winand, one of the world experts on WFFS, "Ask the stallion owner or the studbook the status of the stallion you are considering for your breeding program. If a stallion owner is not transparent about the carrier status of a stallion that should be a red flag indicating you may want to do business elsewhere."

Is it possible to know if a stallion is a carrier if he's deceased?

Maybe. If the stallion has hair on file at a lab, that hair can be tested. If semen exists, it can be tested. If both parents are known to be clear, the stallion would be clear. If the stallion has a carrier foal out of a proven clear mare, then he is a carrier.

I have a carrier stallion. Is it safe to use him?

Yes, if you breed him to mares that are clear, your stallion will never sire an affected foal. Some owners of carrier stallions are requesting proof of clear status from mare owners before they will sign a breeding contract.

Are there legal implications to be aware of with WFFS?

Legal advice is beyond the scope of this FAQ. However, there are a couple of points that could be considered.

Hiding a stallion's carrier status. There was a lawsuit filed against the owner (and others including the repro center) of a stallion who was a carrier for HERDA, similarly a genetic defect, claiming that the owner published a clear status for his stallion knowing he was a carrier. The settlement was for $60,000, according to published reports.

European Union regulations. EU regulations prohibit breeding a carrier to a carrier, if the genetic defect would cause the affected animal to suffer.

My mare is clear (N/N) for WFFS. How can her foal be a carrier?

Her foal can be a carrier if the sire was a carrier. If you breed a clear horse to a carrier, you have a 50% chance of a clear foal, and a 50% chance of a carrier foal. To guarantee a clear foal, both parents must be clear.

If my horse is clear, does that mean the parents are clear too?

No, not necessarily. If you breed a clear horse to a carrier, you will get a clear horse 50% of the time. So a clear horse could have two clear parents, one carrier parent, or even two carrier parents.

Why are so few foals born with WFFS?

Considering the percentage of breeding horses who are carriers of WFFS, we would expect one in every 400 warmblood foals to be born with WFFS (in a population that is not managed for WFFS). The frequency has not been that high. The most likely reason is that foals with WFFS do not reach full term, but are reabsorbed or aborted. 

There is also speculation that if you try to cross a carrier mare with a carrier stallion, the mare will often not get in foal. [See article by Danish breeder Jytte Kolster on eurodressage.] 

The future of WFFS is in the hands of mare owners, because they're the ones who will be making the breeding decisions. These FAQs are to help breeders learn as much as you can so you can make responsible breeding decisions that are right for your program.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome Resources for Breeders

The subject of Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome is a hot topic among breeders today, not surprisingly. Resources and information about WFFS are not all together in one place, which makes it hard to get all the information you need to make informed decisions regarding WFFS in your breeding program. The WBG - WFFS Awareness Group on Facebook is a closed group, but they have assembled a list of resources and shared it with us. I will be adding to this list, which you'll find below.

What is WFFS?

According to Wikipedia, Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS) "is a genetically induced disorder seen in horses, specifically those belonging to the Warmblood breeds. Affected foals have extremely fragile skin that tears or cuts from contact with normal surroundings, are subject to infections, and are often euthanized within a few days of birth. The disease is caused by a mutation of a gene and is incurable."

WFFS is a recessive trait, which in this case means that horses can be:

  • N/N - they have two copies of the dominant allele (version of the gene). They do not have or carry WFFS and cannot pass it on to their offspring. They are clear of the mutation.
  • WFFS/N - they have one allele with the WFFS mutation and one without. They are perfectly normal, but are able to pass the mutation on to their offspring some of the time. Horses who are WFFS/N are carriers of the mutation but do not have the defect.
  • WFFS/WFFS - they have the defect and usually are aborted before they are born. If they are born, they are as described above and must be euthanized. There are no adult horses with WFFS/WFFS status, because they do not survive.
Because WFFS is recessive, in order to get a foal with the defect you would have to breed a carrier to a carrier. If you breed a carrier to a horse that is clear of the gene, you will never get a foal with the defect. 

Reference Links

Original Patent submitted by Cornell:
Testing in the USA:
Testing in Germany:
Testing in England:
  • Laboklin
  • Animal Genetics (Europe), 1 Mount Charles Rd, St. Austell Cornwall, PL25 3LB, ENGLAND: Telephone: 44 (0)1726247788
Testing in Australia: