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POINT OF VIEW I


n the last five years, Warmblood breeders worldwide have become increasingly aware of an unusual inher- ited condition called Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome


(WFFS), a systemic connective tissue disorder. Since most infected foals have died in utero, it’s remained “under the radar” for most breeders —until more recently, when more cases of foals born alive with the condition and then eu- thanized as a result have brought WFFS to the forefront of the breeding world. This year online and print publications have published


more informative articles about the subject while social media and chat rooms are seeing strong reactions from the breeding community. Fortunately many breeders have been moving quickly to DNA test their mares and breeding stallions for this horrible disease in order to make informed decisions about future breedings. This recent rise of WFFS awareness has prompted me to take a closer look at the “big picture.”


Warmblood Evolution The term Warmblood is commonly accepted as originat- ing from crossing cold-blooded agricultural horses with hot-blooded riding or racing horses. But it certainly does not have the same connotation today; the Warmblood has been a well-established type for some time now. The early evolution of the Warmblood was the result of major changes in horse usage. No longer was the warhorse required and no longer was the horse the prime source of


By Judy Wardrope Guardians of an Evolving Gene Pool


agricultural power. Human decisions based on changing needs and desires for sport horses guided the evolution as opposed to the influences of natural selection. Since the first outcrosses, the gene pool has evolved


into today’s Warmblood, which has been further catego- rized by numerous studbooks and registries. For the most part, registries and studbooks are open to horses from oth- er registries, studbooks and breeds. Many developed re- gionally by country or breeding area, and some developed based on the vision of one or more people, but all the Warmblood registries or studbooks tend to have a stated breeding goal and/or a description of the registry’s ideal.


Subsequent Patterns As the Warmblood Horse Breed Guide states, “The purpose- ful evolution of the standard breeding aim is another characteristic of the warmbloods. Today, studbook selec- tion usually entails a performance proof in addition to external evaluation, particularly for stallions. One of the main differences between the warmblood [studbooks] and other breeds is the inspection and performance test- ing of stock eligible for registration; this perhaps explains why the geographical origin of a horse is far less impor- tant than known pedigree and testing and inspection. Hence the seeming mix of breeds in certain European studbooks, breed identity almost playing second fiddle to actual quality and performance, and lineage mattering far more than title.


Ladykiller XX: Born in 1961 in the U.K., Ladykiller was a strong foundation Thoroughbred adopted by the Holsteiner breeders in Germany. He sired 35 approved sons and 195 approved daugh- ters before his death in 1979. His influence on jumping pedigrees remains very strong to this day.


Lauries Crusador XX: Born in 1985, he raced successfully as a 2 and 3-year-old in the U.K. and eventually landed at the Hanove- rian State Celle Stud in 1990 and became a more recent influential Thoroughbred for the Hanoverian breed.


Warmbloods Today 49


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