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Breeding and OCD/Wobblers

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  • Breeding and OCD/Wobblers

    I know there can be a heated debate regarding the heritablility of OCD/DODs. My understanding is that there can be many environmental causes (injury, nutrition, etc) as well as possible inherited predispositions. For myself, I do believe that heredity is a factor, among many others.

    With that in mind, would you ever consider breeding a mare that has not had any OCDs discovered herself, but has had a previous foal that developed wobblers? A client of mine bought a beautiful WB mare a year ago with the hopes of breeding her at some point. This mare had had 4 foals before she bought her. Recently one of these foals was diagnosed as a wobbler (at the age of 2). Of course this foal could have had an injury, been fed improperly, etc, but it's still pretty concerning since she was planning on breeding the mare. Would any of you take a chance on breeding this mare again? She really is lovely, great bloodlines, movement and temperament - but if this was my mare, I don't think I would do it. A good friend of mine had to put her dream horse down for wobblers years ago and it was heartbreaking, I can't imagine taking any chances. Thoughts?
    Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.

  • #2
    Dr. Beech at New Bolton Center did a long complex study on the genetic component of wobblers.
    "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


    • #3
      She had 4 foals and one had wobblers? Did all 4 have the same sire? No offense, but the mare is 1/2 of the genetics and you haven't given us much information.

      Was this 2 year old by a different sire? Sold as a youngster and raised by someone else? Had an injury? See where I'm going with this?
      Oldenburg foals and young prospects
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      • Original Poster

        Sorry if there wasn't much information, this is a mare that was in training with me for a few months after she was purchased by a friend/client. I'm not sure of all the details.

        What I do know: this mare has had 4 foals, 3 by the same stallion (including the wobbler). Only the one so far has shown problems that we have heard of. He is just turning 2. I think the oldest of the mare's foals is now 5, the youngest is a yearling (he was just weaned when the mare was purchased). All of the foals were born when the mare was with the previous owner and I think only one of them hasn't been sold, so I don't know if there have been any injuries or how long they were on the same nutritional program.

        I understand that more information is necessary to fully evaluate, but I think that's all we know at this point. The mare was x-rayed for her pre-purchase and did not show any ocds herself in the joints that were x-rayed. I'm sure if my friend does decide to re-breed the mare that she would avoid using the same sire (as the foal that had the problems) just in case. The news about the 2 year old is very recent, so I'm sure she will be trying to find out more about him as well as asking for her vet's opinion before she makes any decisions regarding the mare.

        Anyway, I thought I would ask here because I was curious as to what others' opinions would be with what we know now. It may not be an easy question to answer at this point. What I said was, "Who knows? It could have been the mare, the stallion or something non-hereditary. The question is, do you want to take a chance?" I guess breeding is always a gamble though.
        Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.


        • #5
          If I were the owner, I would certainly be wary of breeding. I would try to get more information. Does that sire of the 2 year old have a lot of offspring with OCD? I would also talk with the national veterinary experts to see what could be done to decrease the chance of OCD/wobbler disease. I wonder if it would make sense to breed to a stallion who is from a breed that does not tend to OCD. My limited understanding is that warmbloods and TBs have more OCD than other breeds. I know the woman might not want a WB-Connemara cross or an IDSH, but maybe some types of breeding are lower risk than breeding to a WB or TB stallion.

          Breeding a foal who turns out to be a wobbler seems so sad. They look healthy, but treatment is difficult. I would go to a lot of effort to decrease the chance of that particular problem.


          • #6
            I had to euthanize my 9 month old dream colt this year due to Wobblers. It broke my heart. He was out of a warmblood mare and by a warmblood sire--both with super bloodlines. I was told by 3 separate vets that some studies have shown a greater tendency for Wobblers to develop in the "large" breeds, drafts, warmbloods and thoroughbreds. That said, all 3 agreed that a general estimate was as much as 2% chance of Wobblers for these breeds--so, 98% chance of everything going right. Considering how nice my mare is and my colt was, I was told by all 3 that they wouldn't hesitate to breed her again, just not to the same stallion. I did find out after the fact that the stallion had sired other wobblers, but was still w/in the 2% range.
            I bred her again this year (30 day check next week, so far, so good) to a well known thoroughbred stallion. Yes, I asked, no wobblers in his get. I talked to a number of people who have bred (different breeds) through the years and heard a variety of stories ranging from mares who produced multiple wobblers when bred to the same stallion to mares who didn't produce a wobbler by same stallion when rebred to him. I don't think for a second that it was just a matter of my mare only, I think it was a cross that produced a beautiful, perfect colt with stinking luck.
            "I never met a man I didn't like who liked horses." Will Rogers


            • Original Poster

              Thanks guys. Wobblers is pretty scary, it's good to hear everyone's thoughts, opinions and experience. There seems to be a lot online describing what it is and treatment options, but not a lot with actual breeders discussing whether or not they would re-breed a mare (or stallion) that has produced a wobbler in the past.
              Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.


              • #8
                I had to put down my wonderful Oldenburg at 3yo due to severe wobblers. No problems noticed up till that point, with good ribbons on the line, and lightly started under saddle with no issues. Well known imported Hanoverian sire and a TB dam. He was raised in a show/hunter breeding program, so I'm confident there were no external contributing factors. Based on that devastating experience, I would want to know, as a buyer looking at youngstock, if any/how many foals the mare and stallion (independently, not necassarily the cross) had which turned out to have wobblers. I would be reluctant to buy anything under 5yo who had a half sibling out there with Wobblers. I'm probably overly paranoid, but that kind of thing will break your heart. If I had a mare who'd had a wobbler baby in the past, I would do A LOT of research into that stallion, and I would be reluctant to breed her unless I was fairly certain the issue came from Dad's side. Buying a baby is always a risk of course, but to have something like that present itself just as they're maturing into a fantastic young adult is just horrendous.
                A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...