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

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Vic­to­ria Allen Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

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

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 mouth breathe, 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 films Sleep­ing Beauty and Aladdin.

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

Writ­ing in the Vet­eri­nary Record, the horse re­pro­duc­tion ex­pert

‘In a word, this looks hor­rific’

added: ‘The prob­lem comes when you breed for par­tic­u­lar looks and when those looks are detri­men­tal to the horse’s health. In my book, that is fun­da­men­tally wrong. This is a wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ment.’

The Ara­bian horse pedi­grees dates back around 3,000 years. Horses 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: ‘In a word, this looks hor­rific.

‘This ap­pears to be breed­ing in a weak­ness that could se­verely af­fect fu­ture gen­er­a­tions – and if there is not a re­stric­tion to the air­way in this 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 fa­ther also has un­nat­u­ral look

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