HWSD in Connemara Ponies – Buyers BEWARE – TEST before you INVEST

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.

HWSD Status 

NN – HWSD (Non Carrier)

N/ HWSD (Carrier of HWSD)

HWSD / HWSD (Affected)


Sarah Brill has owned her boy for 4 years now.  She was lied to by the lady who sold him to her and at the time she viewed him with a view to purchase he was fully shod with shoes on. After owning him she now suspects that he was probably kept in his box for months while his feet grew enough that the  owner could nail shoes onto the hoof and dress him up for sale.  After she bought him, within three weeks he had lost every shoe and his feet cracked, peeled, split, big chunks of hoof came off with the nailed on shoe and by week 4/5 of owning him she was convinced he had the disease! Sarah had never seen anything like it her life, absolutely heartbreaking as her poor boy Dara was only 11 when she bought him.
After researching more into Dara’s past Sarah found out he had been sold on 7 times in last 5 years and she made the decision then, that like a child with a condition, you adopt ways of coping and what works and what doesn’t and it wasn’t the poor horse’s fault in the first place and decided whatever, she was keeping him and going to give him the best life she could!
Sarah had him DNA tested and wasn’t surprised at the result HWSD/HWSD there is no cure, only hoof management and find the right farrier who will think outside the box and try alternative methods.
Sarah makes the plea…”So please please please share this article into the horsey world and raise the awareness as so many people  don’t know about this condition and then less people and horses can be taken advantage of 😭🐎”
Sarah goes on to say that, “However, I wouldn’t change my horse for the world 🌎 he is one of the kindest most honest horses I have ever met and we take the rough with the smooth and is sometimes off work for periods due to his feet but having a yard with a soft surface is great help. 👌🐎” 
We wish Sarah and Dara all the luck in the world and commend them for being responsible caring horse owners by not selling the horse on but caring for him long term. 


Connemara HWSD Facebook Group

For more detail and assistance regarding HWSD in Connemara ponies you can join the HWSD group on Facebook which is very useful.  Sheila Ramsey is a member of this group and is very knowledgeable on the condition having researched it for many years as a Veterinary Surgeon.

Connemara Ponies for Sale and Loan

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