PermaLink OCD in Akhal-Tekes 01/17/2006 02:20 PM
Are there any genetical defects that are common in the Teke breed? It is a question that I often get? There are two answers:

1. According to breed statstics there are none, as no genetical defects are reported to the stud book and the stud book does not ask.

2. Yes, like in other breeds there are certain defects that do occur within the breed, I have myself seen quite a few overbites, club feet, chryptorchids, ringbones, COPD and recently, heard about a few diagnosed cases of OCD, this in combination with the fact that I have heard about some Tekes that have developed arthritis will defenitely add OCD to the list of genetical defects in the Teke breed.

If you answer no the the question above and refer to breed statistics and what is officially reported in the breed and how the system works for stallion approval (approval by ownership) you can keep on sailing on pink clouds until you are the one that is confronted by a newborn lovely golden metallic filly with overbite and club feet that has costed you a few thousands to produce and herself will be leading a miserable life.

If we do not acknowledge the fact that there are genetically defect animals that are used for breeding and offered to the public to breed, the number of owners/breeders who will see their investments disappear in a few seconds when the defect is discovered as well as animals that will suffer will increase.

Of course some defects are easier than others to conceal by operations (cryptos, OCD, sometimes club feet) but they still continue to exist in the breed, especially when defect animals are allowed to breed.

I encourage everyone that is looking to buy an Akhal-Teke to ask the seller questions about genetical defects, few people are so bad that they breed on defects as well as would lie to a straight question about the genetical health of their breeding animals.  

As long as there are no one who will record or demand health checks for at least stallions that are offered to the public, the buyer him/herself will have to do the best they can to investigate the background of the horse they are planning to buy, and I really encourage the buyers to do so, that might make it less attractive for unserious breeders or horse dealers to sell the horses that have known defects or come from parents with known defects.

I think the way the Swedish Warmblood Trotters deal with OCD might be a way that would work internationally with the Tekes (as only European breeders would accept to have their stallion cassated from breeding due to defects), the Warmblood Trotters X-ray hocks and knees for OCD and the stallions that are diagnosed with OCD can be used for breeding but the diagnose is official so that the mare owners know if the breed to an OCD stallion. For statistics this is also interesting to find out that 9.6% of offspring from stallions that where free from OCD themselves had OCD, while 26.4% of the offspring of OCD-stallions had OCD (Osteochondros och Lösa Benbitar, Göran Dalin      

Considering the above obvious heritability for OCD I do agree with Dr Kevin Keane;
"Is OCD still a day to day challenge?"
"It is, basically a lot of us who have been practising for over 20 years have been saying that we don’t know if we are seeing more cases of osteochondritis dissecans or whether we are better at detecting it. The sophistication of radiographs, either in the field or in a hospital, is now much greater, and we are seeing more OCD, but is it an increase of incidence, or increased ability to detect it, I don’t know. We see an enormous amount of OCD in this country in the Warmblood breed - and again we are battling to determine a cause so we can improve the prevention."
What do you think of the theory advanced by the vet at the Zangersheide stud, Dr Leo de Backer, that OCD is hereditary and that he has detected - and photographed - an OCD gene and that on the basic of 40 years of breeding records at Zangersheide, it is a simple recessive?
"It makes good sense to me, and with everything going on in human medicine trying to find genetic predispositions for a whole range of things from Alzheimer’s to Alcoholism, I have often had that in my mind as an unproven theory about OCD. The unwillingness of many horse owners to cull animals affected by OCD from the breeding is of concern. I wonder if the reason we are seeing so much OCD is that we have essentially allowed this genetic potential to continue by not removing the affected horses from the breeding program. Instead of using them as pleasure animals, they are often bred, and my concern is the weakening of the genetic pool, and I have seen this in the more than twenty years I’ve been practising and that has allowed for say, seven generations of horses in one line. Everyone is concerned with the future of some of these lines of horses, whether they be Thoroughbreds or Warmbloods."
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Certainly food for thought for us breeders, especially of an "unregulated" breed that parentage is enough for breed approval. The personal responsability needs to be so much bigger.  





Comments :v

1. emily kuhn01/19/2006 00:38:06
Homepage: http://none

Hello, I've done extensive research on the Akhal-Teke breed for about a year now and think it's about time I contacted an actual breeder to learn more. It seems as if some of these horses have calm and thoughtful horsanalities and other's are alike an Arab! Is the average Akhal-Teke especially claustrophobic or flighty(which I really want to avoid)? What kind of relationship do they require from a person? Out of curiosity do all or most Akhal-Tekes have an amount of Thoroughbred blood in them or are they pure Turkmene horse? I've been training Mustangs and Arabs through natural horsemanship and it seems to be working out well for them and I. I'm looking for an athletic mare who has a lot of intelligence and sensitivity. A horse more human oriented and will really enjoy her time with me. I don't mind a high spirited or playful horse so long they are not worried or afraid. I suspect the Akhal-Tekes may have the better traits of Thoroughbreds and Arabians. Have a very good New Year! -Ash and Emily Boldt

2. Tabitha01/20/2006 06:35:47


Your comments are certainly food for thought... one can register the stallions on defects but what still often is missing are the defects of mares used for breeding (even here in The Netherlands). Since there are more and more signs that mares have a significant genetical influence on their off spring it would be wise to test them on those things too.

It would be an idea if MAAK would consider not only grading horses but also require certain medical tests on the AT Stallions and Mares before they are allowed to be used for breeding.

But well... that probably is wishfull thinking.

3. Jessica 01/20/2006 08:39:52

The defects in stallions should be of more concern to the breed management as the stallions often affect the population more as they normally get more offspring than a mare. Most registries today record defects in stallions or deny breeding rights for animals might pose a risk to the population by spreading a defect. Of course the only way to really find out if a stallion is spreding a defect is if all mare owners report defects in offspring but this will never happen in any breed!
For the Akhal-Teke breeder/buyer it is important to collect as much fact as possible about relatives when horses are evaluated for breeding or purchasing.
For the stallion owner it is also very important to check the mares that the stallion are bred to, if you offer your stallion to external mare owners you must check the mares carefully. Otherwise it might be the stallion that is blamed for a defect that actually came from the mare.
We have during the years been approached by a few mare owners that have wanted to breed their defect mares to our stallions.
We have of course avoided to breed to mares with known defects as well as bred only to outside mares that have a performance record.
Note that we do not offer our stallions on AI. Selling semen from your stallion is also loosing control a little bit over who you breed to, especially in our breed as there are no reporting whatsoever of defects. When the mares will have to come to you, you know what to breed and not to breed.
More food for thought in the AI discussion.

4. Leonid01/21/2006 02:28:50

Breeding of akhalteke horses is "fatomano" production. And understanding of deffects is very individual. The aim of breeder to create ART and he can use any genetic material for this way.
In any case, if you bought horse with deffects, why you did it?

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