Monday, August 26, 2019

Update on Fragile Foal Syndrome on Noelle Floyd

by Anna Goebel

The Noelle Floyd website has just published an article on (Warmblood) Fragile Foal Syndrome. It includes the facts about WFFS that most of us have been familiar with since Mary Nuttall first loosed the bombshell in spring, 2018 that her foal was born with WFFS.

The author interviewed some of the people most closely concerned with that first dramatic story, including Mary, Natalie DiBerardinis of Hilltop Farm, and Nina Winand (who identified the mutation). They all have interesting things to say, looking back on the experience more than a year later.

For example, I'd never heard a complete description of what happened to Mary's foal before, which is included in this interview. It's even more horrific than I imagined. There are still breeders, even a few in the US, who really believe that because WFFS is rare, we really don't need to take any precautions. That it's "not a big deal," given how few affected foals are actually born. Most prominent among these is Paul Schockemöhle. According to the article, he is willing to gamble 10,000 euros to encourage breeders to take the risk.

I strongly agree with what I believe is the majority opinion - and least in the US - that one foal is too many. No foal should have to endure that, and no human should have to watch it happen either. If you can read this report (which not at all sensationalized - it doesn't need to be) and still believe that a few cases of WFFS are ok here and there, I'm afraid you've lost all claim to humane management practices.

I believe that one of the areas in which North American breeders can take pride is that they take horse welfare seriously. Very few are willing to ignore humane principles. As a group, we really do know that horses are not just "things" or commodities, but sentient creatures. One important thing we've learned from living a year with knowledge of WFFS is that there are still some breeders in Europe that just don't get it. Luckily we are an important market for them, so we can vote with our dollars and choose to do business with more responsible stallion owners.

Click here to read the full article on NoelleFloyd.com.

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