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A FOLLOW-UP: Perhaps I'm naiive...

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susanne

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[This is a follow-up to a question on the other dwarf thread...since I had replied to the question there and then removed it as not fitting the discussion, I felt I needed to repost it here. Hopefully, posted without the question, this post will not seem out of the blue]

The question of whether it takes both parents to create a dwarf is, from what I've read, still a matter of conjecture, and part of what John's research is seeking to discover.

The results of his study will hopefully provide information, tools with which to work, but it is obviously up to each breeder how he or she will use this information.

Still I believe it would make an enormous difference.

If a test becomes available through the results of isolating a gene, one would get a fair measure of a breeder's integrity by whether or not they tested and made public the results.

Some breeders would no doubt choose not to test or opt to keep the results secret, but the buyer would then see the absence of test results and could choose not to buy from that breeder.

Of course, as with HYPP and LWO, some will choose to play the odds, hoping that they will be amongst the lucky few, but at least potential buyers have the ability to make an informed choice.

I'm speaking as a non-breeder, but I do believe that if John is able to isolate a dwarf gene it will give great hope for future generations of miniature horses.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I too think identifying this gene would be a benefit to the miniature horse.I expect when (as I'm confidant it will be) this dwarf gene is located the next debate we will take part in will be ...should testing be mandatory? I am sure that this same type of debate took place in the 1/4horse world before the HYPP gene was isolated and afterwards when they had to decide if they would go with mandatory testing. In both cases the condition, if the horse carries it,is debilitating and has a lasting effect on the animals quality of life. No one wants to breed a horse who's usefulness and life span is limited but many will chance it in hopes of breeding a winner.
 

Sue_C.

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There was a question prior to this post, (yet very relative non-the-less) where the poster asked if "we" (breeders) would be willing to stop breeding a horse after it was tested positive for the dwarf gene, should this test become available. My answer...YES, ABSOLUTELY...and I would be first in line for this testing. I have aleready stated that should a dwarf ever been born here, both the mare and stallion would be fixed so they could never breed again. and yes, my vet has already assured me he can and will spay a mare if necessary.

I also agree that this would be a sure way to know "who is who" as far as willingness to test for this gene. I would not even consider buying from anyone who didn't have the guts to test thier breeding horses.

I would certainly offer a dwarf if I had one, for testing. IMHO, it would be better to have this terst available to us, and I don't feel these test animals will be caused to suffer. As far as having this test animal "poked and prodded", it would be far better that a FEW be used as test animals, than how many hundreds possibly born in the future, just to suffer until they are given the mercy of a quiet passing. (Which many are never given...many living painfilled, miserabled existances...as not all dwarves are owned by loving, caring individuals.)
 

bingo

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I want to ask everyone, IF John can pinpoint a certain gene throughout miniature horses that causes dwarves, IF he can narrow that gene down to certain bloodlines, are you all willing to stop breeding the horses who carry that gene in order to eliminate dwarfism all together? What if the horse was a national champion, well known mare/stallion? For the betterment of the breed, you would "cull" your breeding program and stop breeding horses that are known carriers of this dwarf gene?
You can't honestly tell me that you would.
Taking this quote from the other thread which I think will help this topic make more sense.

Yes honestly I would take those known carriers out of the gene pool. As would every breeder who has a true and honest desire to better the breed not their own wallets.

Many other breeds have bred out serious health issues and the breed did not fall apart, disappear or dwindle in numbers. I agree with Susanne that I as a buyer would not purchase a horse that was not tested should such a test exisit. Again that would hurt the wallets of some however those with the true passion to improve the breed would be willing to test so that buyers and breeders can truly make educated decisions.

Our breed has many other wonderfu qualities besides the ability to breed I think as a whole it is time we all start celebrating that!

So to answer you YES I CAN HONESTLY SAY I WOULD NO LONGER BREED A HORSE I OWNED THAT WAS TESTED TO BE A CARRIER.
 

Minimor

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I so agree with you Susanne. I think a test would be such a benefit, for those very reasons. I know that I for one would then want to see test results if I were buying a breeding animal. I guess it wouldn't matter if I were buying a gelding or a colt that I wanted as a gelding--as long as the horse wasn't showing dwarf traits--but I sure wouldn't buy a breeding animal that carried the gene. And I wouldn't buy a breeding animal if the seller wouldn't provide a negative test result for that horse.

And yes, I'm with Sue and bingo--I too would stop breeding any horse I own if it tested positive for the dwarf gene. It would not matter if that horse had 10 National Championships...if he/she tested positive for dwarfism then I would not use that horse for breeding, and nor would I sell it as a breeding animal. That would be what is right for me.

I'm quite sure that dwarfism would be much like HYPP. There would be some who would argue it's okay to breed a positive horse as long as the horse it is bred to is negative. That way you would not get a full blown dwarf, only--at most--a carrier. And, I suppose there would be a few that would still breed positive to positive (if people will do that with LWO then I'm sure some would do it with dwarfism too).
 

Michelle@wescofarms

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It will be fantastic when a specific gene or genes are isolated and testing can be performed. But my understanding is there could be different genes responsible for the different types of dwafism (please correct me if I'm wrong). John is working on one type only. (again correct me if I'm wrong). I listened to him at the AMHA convention in Reno about this and have followed his research, but I'm not quite up on the transition from brachecephalic and achondroplasia to Type 1, 2, 3.

Personally I will have my horses tested voluntarily (holding my breathe just in case) but the same as I did with DNA/PQ before it was mandatory. I want to know what I have here for breeding (lol - one day the wallet will have enough $$ for all the color testing I'd like to do!).

I would want to see solid irrefutable evidence though, not guesswork or hypothesis on genetics. I love my minis but from a business standpoint I would need solid facts not a kindof, sortof, maybe conjecture before testing or making any decisions based on test results.

As for mandatory - it would require rule changes with either registry and we can't get a good height measuring point can you imagine this? Especially with those that we still know are out there breeding horses that knowingly sire/produce dwarves. Then there are the mini mills that won't care and the 'pet' buyers that won't care - so the ethical and concerned will take the necessary steps and the rest . . .

I'm going to throw this out for debate - what if the 'gene' proves to be highly prevalent as in over 50-80% of minis (unrelated lines) carry this gene? Do we eliminate all those horses or do we work at managing the risk and/or slowly eliminating it over time?

Example a breeder has 10 stallions and 60 mares. All 10 stallions had it that would be a major blow to geld them all. What if all the mares tested negative? What if 60-70-80 percent of their total herd has the 'gene'. That would be financial suicide for some. What if your one and only stallion that has over the span of his life sired 30-50 no dwarf characteristic foals so you get him tested and he's got the 'gene'! What then?

What if stallion x is tested positive and he has get, grand-get, great-grandget and the great-greats on the way? Is there going to be a responsibility (yes definitely an ethical one) to inform all the downline? Will the registries note this on the studbook? What liability will be involved?

There are lots of what ifs still to be answered.

Rumor and innuendo could ruin a breeder with no basis in fact.

This topic is going to raise more questions than not and is not so clear cut or black and white as some want to make it.
 

crponies

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I think a decision about breeding positives would depend on how many horses out there are positive. If 75% of miniatures are carriers but can have normal foals if they are bred to non-carriers, would you still remove those 75% from the gene pool? That could be a tremendous hit to the breed. Since there isn't yet a test of course we can only guess how many miniature horses carry the dwarf gene but I wanted to throw this out there as food for thought.

Oops, should have read Michelle's post before posting since I said about what she already said.
 
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stormy

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For discussion purposes why would you handle the dwarf gene any differant than LWO. We know if we cross a horse positive for LWO to a negative horse the foal is safe from the affects of the gene. If dwarfism is a simple dominant a horse carrying a single copy of the gene bred to a negative animal would not produce a dwarf.

So LWO makes a pretty color? Does that make it more "acceptable" when you have the same odds of producing an abnormal foal with LWO as when breeding a dwarf carrier to a non-carrier?
 

susanne

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Stormo, it would be one thing if positive to negative meant no dwarfism AND no dwarf carrier, but it would be entirely different if that combination were proven to result in a carrier, at least as I see it.

I think a lot of how this all would be handled depends upon how serious we are about removing or minimizing the dwarf gene amongst miniatures. If we eventually know who does and who doesn't carry a dwarf gene or genes, I suppose to a certain extent the outcome will be market driven.
 

bingo

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I think a decision about breeding positives would depend on how many horses out there are positive. If 75% of miniatures are carriers but can have normal foals if they are bred to non-carriers, would you still remove those 75% from the gene pool? That could be a tremendous hit to the breed. Since there isn't yet a test of course we can only guess how many miniature horses carry the dwarf gene but I wanted to throw this out there as food for thought.Oops, should have read Michelle's post before posting since I said about what she already said.
I think for me the answer is the same. Many other breeds of not only horses but dogs have taken culls out of the gene pool. The breeds still have managed to go on. If the number is 75 percent we have no one to blame but ourselves and it is up to serious breeders to change this once they have the ability to find it.

It might mean some horses *gasp* have to be gelded and that some mares should not be bred. I do not see this as the end of the world. If my entire herd were to show up as carriers I would then have to make a decision as a honest and ethical breeder to purchase new negative breeding stock.

I guess I am not seeing this as the end of Miniature Horses rather the beginning of being able to truly see who is in it for the breed.
 

Shortpig

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I believe if there is a way to remove the dwarf gene that's great, truly awesome.

Erin posted on the other forum several issues I also agree with. I know a few old time breeders who had pairs that produced dwarfs. They didn't breed that pair of horses again. They did what they believed in.

It is also my understanding it is believed by many that the line breeding and in breeding caused the dwarf gene in the first place. This being the act to create the smaller miniature horse. How many breeders continue to do this? I know an appaloosa breeder. She owned a beautiful appy that was a 1/2 sibling to a horse created by breeding a son bred back to the dam. The foal from that inbreeding was a Grand National Champion. However, she also stated that his full sibling was of the same pair and one of the ugliest appys she had ever seen. Not dwarfed just big head and really bad conformation. So even the big horse people continue to play with line breeding and inbreeding hoping for that one horse that will surpass all others because it can happen. They just haven't done it as often as the first mini breeders did when they discovered that these pairings created a smaller horse.

As most people who know me are aware of I also love the pot belly piggies. They have also done this with them. By the way I never was a breeder just a lover of my little shortpig. Guess what they have also run into issues by inbreeding these guys. They are doing this to also get smaller and smaller piggies.

I myself still own my original stallion and two mares. My stallion has been bred to five different mares in 13 yrs and

there has never been a dwarf or minor dwarf produced. Can I prove this? Sure because everyone of my foals was seen by a larger breeder in my area. My mares have always been bred to him no other stallion.

Both my mares are half mini half shetland. I have to presume this makes me a small breeder. I have produced a total of 12 foals in 13 yrs from 5 mares. The last foal is now 3yrs old. I no longer breed. What I'm leading up to is something John said in his topic in response to someone.

And I quote:

All of you, especially the "small breeders", should appreciate and understand the necessity of my work the most, dwarfism has a much higher chance of affecting your breeding program more than a large breeder, by the potential sheer numbers of offspring produced and loss of value to the offsping.

I would love for someone to explain to me how this is true. I believe if you start with a quality pair you have a good chance of not producing dwarfs. If the small breeder produces one foal a year and the big breeders produce 10 and up and by sheer numbers of offspring if the small breeder produces even 1 dwarf in 5 yrs then wouldn't the big breeder by percentage produce a larger number of dwarfs? Thereby affecting there program equally as much.

There was a very well known large breeder in our area. Many horses in that persons herd showed signs of dwarfism be they minor they were definitely there. I see that line in many many horses still being bred today.

I would never hold it against a person who wanted to donate their dwarf to research. That is a personal choice and should be kept as such. I myself grew up loving horses. They have been my companion as have my dogs and of course my piggie. I would love to see in the future that no one ever produce another dwarf. If research could accomplish this enormous goal how wonderful that would be for all. How many breeders would be willing to stop breeding today and wait for the outcome of the research? Breeding any animal is a gamble. What we do with the outcome of that is what determines who we are as a person. But the same can be said for how we treat and deal with other people in our lives. May we all show compassion for all living things great or small human or not that need our love and support in one way or another. What a wonderful world this would be.
 

tagalong

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I think for me the answer is the same. Many other breeds of not only horses but dogs have taken culls out of the gene pool. The breeds still have managed to go on. If the number is 75 percent we have no one to blame but ourselves and it is up to serious breeders to change this once they have the ability to find it.
But if the 25% who are not carriers are less than wonderful examples of conformation and/or performance, how will eliminating all those carriers - many of whom could be of superb quality and not "culls" - help the breed? It wouldn't. You would simply make the gene pool smaller again. I suspect that a vast majority of minis carry the gene... and just because some have not had a dwarf arrive, it does not mean that the potential is not there - no matter how many years you have been breeding. The odds have simply been in your favour. JMO.

If dwarfism is truly a recessive gene... and it takes both mare and stallion to to have a 25% chance of a dwarf foal - and an even smaller chance of having a live one, then IMO once the genetic key is discovered a breeder could carefully breed a quality horse who was a carrier to one who was not... and with only a 25% chance of creating a carrier from that pairing, slowly but surely the gene would be weeded out. It is not as simplistic a solution as some seem to believe - and a much longer process- without losing the quality along the way...
 

susanne

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Nobody has suggested that there would be a "simple solution." Of course it will take time; that goes without saying.

It certainly may be that a gene is never isolated. Does that mean we shouldn't try?
 

tagalong

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Nobody has suggested that there would be a "simple solution." Of course it will take time; that goes without saying.
It certainly may be that a gene is never isolated. Does that mean we shouldn't try?
The simple solution that has been suggested is that if the key to isolating the gene was discovered - that all the carriers should be eliminated from the gene pool. That - if as I suggested may be a majority of the minis out there - would not be a viable solution. Of course we need to try to do the best we can without any genetic testing available- but we also need to look at the situation very carefully once we can isolate the gene - and proceed wisely in order to help the breed, and slowly diminish the likelihood of dwarves... without eliminating a lot of the good genes out there that may also be involved. Similar to what I suggested in my previous post. JMO. YMMV.
 
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Sue_C.

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But if the 25% who are not carriers are less than wonderful examples of conformation and/or performance, how will eliminating all those carriers - many of whom could be of superb quality and not "culls" - help the breed?
But there 's the thing...should they be carriers, they ARE culls, no matter how pretty they are...if they carry the dswarf gene...they would/SHOULD BE...culls.

I cannot think that only the good horses will be found to be affected by this...and even f they are...I would much rather start at the "bottom", and breed up again, than continue with KNOWN dwarf carriers just because they are prettier.

Shortpig, I think what John is saying is that for a small breeder to lose thier one stallion, or a couple mares and/or foals would be a huge financial loss in comparison to several of the same to a large breeder. To rieterate...As a small breeder, losing ONE of my horses would be as large a financial loss as a breeder with dozens and even 100's of horses, to lose several, percentage-wise.
 

mama 'n me minis

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Well...I held off as long as I could. I am an avid reader of the forum here but rarely post. I have been breeding miniatures for only 3 years. We started off purchasing some bred mares and waited until 2007 to purchase our stallion. We waited and saved for the stallion of our dreams. He was a 29 inch, well bred buckskin. He was everything we had been waiting for. We bred him to 4 mares and eagerly awaited his foals. He was 3 in 2007 and this would be his first foals.

The first mare foaled a buckskin dwarf colt that was grossly deformed and born dead. The joints of the lower legs were twisted and fused. The foal was delivered with the assistance of a vet. I had sold the mare in foal to another breeder. I was very upset that the mare had suffered and the new owner had such a bad experience. Luckily she is very experienced and sought the help of her vet and the mare survived.The second mare delivered a normal colt. The third mare foaled a stillborn filly. There were no obvious dwarf characteristics or abnormalities in the stillborn filly. The fourth mare foaled a very obvious live dwarf.

I always have the vet out to do a newborn check on my foals. I had my vet geld my beautiful stallion when she checked the dwarf foal. It was the only thing to do ,in my opinion. My stallion had beautiful conformation and no dwarf charcteristics. His bite was dead on. He was simply beautiful. I also don't understand the genetics behind dwarfism. However, I can do the math. My stallion produced 50% dwarves out of unrelated mares. The mares had never produced a dwarf before.

I sold my gelding to a great home where he is the mascot for a very fancy dressage barn. He is loved and treated like a king. I lost quite a bit of money just on the price I paid for the stallion and what I sold him for as a gelding. That amount does not include the cost of the lost foals, the care of a dwarf, and the vet bills for a dystocia delivery. I also paid to lease a stallion for this year. I gave the dwarf to a mini owner who had the time , desire, and funds to care for him. She loves him dearly. However, if I still owned him I would most likely donate him to this research. It may sound cruel but if it would help us locate this gene it would not be in vain. Our mares often suffer from dystocia and if it could save one mare from death from a deformed dwarf dystocia it would be worth it.

I am sure I could have sold my stallion and not lost a dime. I could have just quietly passed him on down for someone else to risk the lives of their mares and bring more dwarf foals into this world. I often read or hear people speak about breeding to better the breed. I believe in that even when it hits home. (and my pocketbook) I would hope all of us, who love these animals so dearly, would breed with the intent to better the breed.

I have since purchased a fine stallion from a member on this forum out of La Vernia, Texas. I have high hopes for him and the foals he will produce in 2010.

Dwarfism broke my heart this year. I would not hesitate to test for it if I could.
 

Becky

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I generally don't post on these dwarf topics, but for those that are new to miniatures and miniature breeding, those must be kept aware that there are other causes of deformed foals than genetics. Many chemicals and drugs are toxic to a developing fetus and can cause birth defects just as they do in humans.
 

bingo

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But if the 25% who are not carriers are less than wonderful examples of conformation and/or performance, how will eliminating all those carriers - many of whom could be of superb quality and not "culls" - help the breed? It wouldn't. You would simply make the gene pool smaller again. I suspect that a vast majority of minis carry the gene...
I feel first off the assumption that every mini has the gene is just that an assumption. One I do not personally agree with but only time and research will tell.

Not being able to breed a majority of these horses would not be such a horrible thing. Perhaps it would *force* this breed to see the other options out there for our horses besides breeding. Perhaps it would actually slow down the breeding enough to get this breed back on track.

Who knows what it would do however the question posed is would *YOU* choose to continue to breed if you knew the horses you had were carriers. Since some have answered yes they would choose to discontinue their horses from the gene pool how can you then tell them they are wrong? That would be my choice as a person responsible for choosing to bring another animal into this world. Perhaps your choice would be different.

Susanne is simply saying that if and when the gene isolated and a test becomes available buyers can speak with their dollars as to what they feel is the correct choice for the longevity of the breed.
 
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Sue_C.

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there are other causes of deformed foals than genetics. Many chemicals and drugs are toxic to a developing fetus and can cause birth defects just as they do in humans.
Yes, there are...but if we can isolate the genetic type, or at least one of them...that is only a good thing. Sure, there might me other causes, but certainly NOT nearly as prevalent as these GENETIC dwarves.
 

Minimor

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those must be kept aware that there are other causes of deformed foals than genetics.
If a genetic test were available, then that would eliminate any guessing about whether the "dwarfism" in any given horse is genetic or if it is due to some outside influence--and I believe that would be a good thing.
 

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