Vets’ hor­ror at ‘freak­ish’ Arab horse’s curved face

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Vic­to­ria Allen

HE is de­scribed as the king of horses by his own­ers and is re­port­edly worth mil­lions of euro.

But a pedi­gree horse bred to have a con­cave face has been de­scribed as ‘hor­rific’ by vet­eri­nary ex­perts.

El Rey Mag­num, an Ara­bian show horse, is said to be at risk of breath­ing problems be­cause of his un­nat­u­ral face. His par­ents have sim­i­larly con­cave faces.

The colt is the lat­est ex­am­ple of ex­treme breed­ing, more usu­ally seen in cats and dogs, and is the sub­ject of an ar­ti­cle in a Bri­tish jour­nal con­demn­ing the prac­tice.

Equine ex­pert Tim Greet said: ‘The de­for­mity is even more sig­nif­i­cant for a horse than for a dog. Dogs, like man, can mouth­breathe, but horses can only breathe through their nose. I sus­pect ex­er­cise would def­i­nitely be lim­ited for this horse.’

The own­ers of El Rey Mag­num, at a spe­cial­ist horse farm in the US, have de­fended the ap­pear­ance of their nine-month-old colt, which re­sem­bles car­toon horses in Dis­ney’s Sleep­ing Beauty and Aladdin.

How­ever Jonathan Py­cock, pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Equine Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion, said: ‘This is in­cred­i­ble – it’s al­most car­toon-like. Quite freak­ish.’

Writ­ing in the Vet­eri­nary Record, the horse re­pro­duc­tion ex­pert added: ‘The prob­lem comes when you breed for par­tic­u­lar looks and when those

‘In a word, this looks hor­rific’

looks are detri­men­tal to the horse’s health.

‘In my book, that is fun­da­men­tally wrong. This is a wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ment.’

The Ara­bian horse is one of the old­est pedi­grees in the world, dat­ing back around 3,000 years. They must have a ‘dished’, or con­cave, face as well as a long, arch­ing neck and high tail.

Doug Leadley, man­ager of Or­rion Farms in Wash­ing­ton, which owns the horse, said he had no breath­ing problems, adding: ‘We think he is the most beau­ti­ful Ara­bian in the world – we think he is a king.’

Re­gency Cove Farms in Ok­la­homa, which bred the horse, said he had been bred to be a ‘very unique an­i­mal’ which was ‘a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent’.

But Roly Ow­ers, an equine vet and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the World Horse Wel­fare char­ity, said of the horse: ‘In a word, this looks hor­rific.’ He added: ‘If there is not a re­stric­tion to the air­way in this par­tic­u­lar an­i­mal al­ready then there will be in fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.’

How­ever, Wayne McIl­wraith, di­rec­tor of the mus­cu­loskele­tal re­search pro­gramme at Colorado State Univer­sity, said there was ‘no ev­i­dence’ that the skull shape caused breath­ing problems.

Ex­treme: His par­ents have the same look

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