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Update on Connemara Pony Foal Passports

Dec 01 2023

Update on Connemara Pony Foal Passports

We have got important updates about our Connemara Pony foal passports.

 

Making sure these passports are spot-on is a big deal. It ensures we know our pony’s pedigree and makes sure we’re all on the same page about who’s related to who.

 

DNA sampling is very a important part of this process. It helps us know for sure who the parents are and keeps our pedigree records accurate. But there’s a twist – even with all the new technology, there are some challenges in the world of foal DNA sampling that we’ve got to talk about.

As the council chosen by you, our society members, we are here to update everyone on the hurdles we are all facing with DNA sampling and getting our foal passports out.

From tech issues to real-life problems, this process isn’t straight forward. It affects breeders, rule-makers, and everyone in the Connemara Pony Industry.

We’ve got to tackle these challenges head-on to keep our pedigree records 100%, protect our ponies’ genetics and keep everyone in the loop.

 

So, what’s happened this year compared to previous years? The equine industry moved from the old DNA system called MS of testing to a new system called SNP.

There were problems with the old MS system, and it could not be maintained but rather than have a phased change over to the New SNP version it was rolled out in one go this year. This has meant that we have all ended up learning the ins and outs of the new SNP method.  It has not been a smooth transition as expected and there are some hiccups along the way – both technically and logistically.

 

So why the delays? It turns out that delays in getting our passports are linked to using the original DNA from mares and stallions in the DNA bank. These are the same belonging to our ponies from when they were originally DNA tested. To protect the integrity of the studbook the best decision at the time was to use the retrieved samples from the DNA Bank. The pedigree of these ponies was already established, verified and readily available.

 

Plus, there are some kinks in the new system that were only apparent on its roll out and about 10% of the DNA sent in by breeders were not suitable to pass the new SNP test –all adding to delays. A delay that has affected the process is when a SNP result cannot be generated from the retrieved samples of one our foals’ parents. This result is needed to test the foals’ sample against it.

 

To fix things up for next year, we’re thinking ahead.  We don’t use cover certs to predict next year’s foal crop, but we have prepared a Foal Forecast form, (downloadable here) which have been sent to breeders. We need active participation by our breeders on this to ensure that if new DNA samples are required for the parents of our foals that the necessary kits are sent to mares and stallions’ owners before the next foaling season. This is to ensure that we are getting fresh samples to test our breeding ponies early.

 

In relation to this year’s foals that could not go through the new SNP testing system we with our lab partners are endeavouring to speed up the passport process using the old MS DNA system. Passports should be rolling out in the next few weeks.

It is important to acknowledge that many of the above issues are beyond the direct control of our office staff who operate within a framework set by the governing bodies and their directives.

 

The new Council for 2023/24 is committed to working diligently together within these parameters to fulfil our responsibilities and we are prepared to tackle these challenges with you, our members and contribute to the overall success of the CPBS.

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