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Hoof Wall Separation Disease


hoof wall separation disease

There are a number of genetic diseases that can occur in horses and ponies. Hoof wall separation disease (HWSD) is a genetic disease that can affect Connemara ponies. Find out more about HWSD in this blog. 


What is Hoof Wall Separation Disease?

Exclusive to Connemara ponies, HWSD is characterised by a hoof wall that cracks and breaks easily. However, the condition is accompanied by a normal looking coronary band. The symptoms can vary in severity, usually appearing in young ponies. Hoof wall separation disease can also result in lameness, difficulty with shoeing and problems with weight bearing.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HWSD and severely affected ponies sometimes need to be euthanased. However, it may be possible to manage less severe cases. 


How Can We Prevent Hoof Wall Separation Disease?

HWSD cannot be caught and passed on like an infectious disease. The only way to prevent hoof wall separation disease is to avoid breeding ponies that carry or are affected by the genetic mutation. 

HWSD is caused by a recessive gene, so a pony must carry two copies of the affected gene to be affected. However, ponies that carry only one copy of the HWSD gene can carry the disease (and pass it on) without being affected by the disease themselves. 

This is why genetic testing prior to breeding from a horse is important. By checking the status of any purebred or part-bred Connemara pony prior to breeding, we can over time eradicate the disease. The British Connemara Pony Society requires all registered foals to be tested for hoof wall separation disease and the result recorded in the passport, and genetic testing is also available for older ponies.

The British Connemara Pony Society has a very useful page on hoof wall separation disease.


Avonvale Equine Vets

Testing for genetic diseases is an important aspect of responsible breeding. At Avonvale Equine Vet Practice, we work with breeders of all sizes, from thoroughbred stud farms to individual horse owners. From our practice in Ratley, near Banbury, we cover a wide area including parts of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. Our experienced and dedicated stud vets will create a bespoke plan to meet the needs of your mare, and we are happy to offer advice on genetic testing prior to breeding. If you are considering breeding from your mare, talk to our equine vets. 


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