Hoof wall separation disease (HWSD) is a genetic defect in Connemara ponies characterized by separation and cracking of the dorsal hoof wall. The disease can result in chronic inflammation, severe lameness and laminitis. Affected ponies typically show clinical signs within the first 6 months of life. The disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. The genetic mutation is a frameshift mutation in the gene SERPINB11, (c.504_505insC). Carriers are completely normal, only ponies that are homozygous for the mutation will have clinical signs of the disease. Within the Connemara breed, carrier frequency has been estimated at 14.8% and the mutation has not been identified in other breeds at this time. While there is no definitive cure for HWSD, management through targeted hoof care and the use of special shoes may be beneficial. Additionally, environmental management may lessen the severity of clinical disease in affected ponies. Genetic testing of Connemara ponies is required for all new registrations.
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