Hoof Wall Separation Disease (HWSD) is a debilitating condition which is found primarily in Connemara ponies and their part-bred progeny. Despite there being a simple genetic test to see which ponies are affected with the condition, ponies are still being produced and indeed sold that have the condition which affects all 4 feet and causes the hoof wall to crumble and collapse. There is no treatment and affected ponies are in effect valueless. The condition is also very painful for the animals.
N/HWSD Connemara Stallions (carriers) are still allowed by the Breed Society to cover mares, even if they have not been tested for HWSD thus producing more affected ponies. Both Sire and Dam which are N/ HWSD positive will produce HWSD offspring. The responsible act would always be, if you chose to use a HWSD stallion to always ensure the mare is NN for HWSD but alas not all breeders are responsible. Whilst all foals registered with the respective Connemara stud books should be tested for HWSD and there should be a page at the back of their passports showing the result, it has been found in some situations, that the page has been ripped out and where ponies have been registered outside of their breed studbook, testing is not a requirement and thus are likely to be sold to people who are unsuspecting of the HWSD status.
If you are considering purchasing a Connemara pony, and they truly are a fantastic breed, do ensure you have the pony vetted by a qualified veterinary surgeon and that you ask that the pony is tested for HWSD if the result is not present in their passport. It is a relatively inexpensive test, costing just £35 so is well worth the investment. The condition can effect both pure breds and part breds.
The majority of sellers will state whether the pony is NN for HWSD but even in some cases where HWSD / HWSD has been stated, which means the pony has the condition, the pony has still been sold for £1000s as buyers are ignorant to what this status means and the effects of the disease.
NN – HWSD (Non Carrier)
N/ HWSD (carrier of HWSD)
HWSD / HWSD (Affected)