Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS)
Recently, there has been a stir in Europe over a condition in horses that is new to many horse owners and veterinarians; the Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome. This hereditary condition has been known in America for some time. Foals can be born prematurely and/or born with abnormalities. The most important abnormalities in newborn foals are skin abnormalities such as a skin that is too elastic, that easily tears and wounds that "just" arise, and hyperextension of joints. Usually the foals are not viable.
As far as known, the condition is determined by a gene. When both the mare and the stallion are carriers of the gene, there is a 25 percent chance of an abnormal foal, 50 percent will become carrier of the gene and 25 percent is normal. In case that only one parent is carrier, the foal that is born will not be abnormal. A carrier, stallion or mare, is not unsuitable for breeding but it is wise not to cross two carriers. In terms of heredity, it is comparable to hydrocephalus and dwarfism in Friesians. They are now all being tested. Carriers can be used for breeding, but crossing of carriers is avoided.
A test is available to determine if a horse is carrier. Recently, at the request of KWPN, the test has also become available in the Netherlands through the Van Haeringen Laboratory in Wageningen. The test will cost 39,50 euro excluding VAT.
Because WFFS is new in Europe there is no standard screening in the breeding program of European Warmblood breeding. It will be put on the agenda of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH). KWPN will soon discuss the subject with the breeding councils. Breeders that are worried can have their mares tested at the Van Haeringen Laboratory in Wageningen and ask the stallion owner if the stallion is tested. We ask breeders that have a foal with WFFS to report this to KWPN.