In April 2018, the AHS issued an initial statement regarding Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS), advising the membership regarding this genetic condition and suggesting that carrier-to-carrier breedings be avoided. This statement also announced the appointment of the AHS’ WFFS Task Force to investigate WFFS and provide recommendations to the AHS Board. A few weeks later in early May, the AHS was the first domestic warmblood registry to announce an arrangement with UC-Davis offering discounted WFFS testing for AHS members.
Since then, the WFFS Task Force has conducted an extensive investigation, speaking with various experts on WFFS and other genetic diseases as well as registry and breed organizations that have developed policies to address genetic diseases in their breeding programs. Last week, the WFFS Task Force provided their science-based recommendations to the AHS Board in a special meeting. On Monday, June 11, after countless telephone conversations and email exchanges among its members, the Board unanimously approved the following important steps.
First, the AHS recommends that members test all mares and stallions to determine whether these animals are carriers of the WFFS gene. Also, the AHS recommends that members not engage in carrier-to-carrier breedings.
Second, beginning in 2019, stallion owners will be required to provide the WFFS status of their stallion(s) for publication in AHS/ARS Stallion Book and on the AHS and ARS websites. This status will be published in a manner similar to the stallion’s EVA status, namely as “tested positive,” “tested negative,” or “not tested.” This published status should assist mare owners with selecting appropriate stallions, especially those owners with mares identified as carriers.
Third, the AHS will continue to work with UC-Davis, making the genetic information gathered over the last few decades for parentage verification available for further study on the prevalence of WFFS in the AHS breeding population as well as warmblood breeding populations more generally.
Fourth, the AHS will continue to provide educational materials to its members regarding WFFS, including a speaker on the topic of preventing genetic diseases during the upcoming 2019 Annual Meeting.
The WFFS Task Force will continue to monitor the research on WFFS and update the Board as new information becomes available to ascertain whether further steps are necessary.
The AHS will continue to communicate to its members as pertinent information on WFFS becomes available. Again, the Board thanks you for your continued interest in and passion for the Hanoverian and Rhineland breeds.
Additional information regarding WFFS can be found at https://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/horse/WFFS.php.