One year on, the test for Fell Pony Syndrome, has been acclaimed a great success.
As the genetic test identifies carrier animals, it can be used to prevent affected foals being conceived. The disease only appears when both parents carry the mutation. Breeders can avoid producing affected foals by ensuring that they do not breed two carriers together.
Of the almost 1000 animals tested, 47% of Fell ponies and 10% of Dales ponies were found to carry the mutation for the disease.
The fatal disease is now known as Foal Immunodeficiency syndrome (FIS), as cases are not confined to one breed. Affected foals die or are euthanased, usually before they reach three months of age.
Since February 2010, when the test became available, nearly 1000 samples have been tested. Three quarters of the samples came from Fell ponies. Of those tested, 47% of Fell ponies and 10% of Dales ponies were found to carry the mutation for FIS.
The test was developed as the result of research led by Dr June Swinburne of the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket.
"This test, developed using funding from The Horse Trust, has been a massive success among the Fell and Dales pony breeding communities," she said. "We hope the test will prevent unnecessary suffering among Fell and Dales pony foals as breeders can now easily prevent the conception of foals with FIS. As so many breeders tested their breeding stock last year, we hope there will be very few foals affected by this horrendous disease in the future."
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