University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment


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Genetic Causes of Congenital Abnormalities in Horses

Teri Lear, PhD
(859) 218-1108

A main goal of the International Equine Genome Mapping Workshop was to develop and use tools needed for identifying genes causing inherited genetic diseases. My lab is particularly interested in congenital abnormalities of horses that may be inherited. 

A primary focus of the lab is investigating the cause of Contracted Foal Syndrome (CFS).  Foals with CFS are born with contracted legs and are usually unable to stand and nurse, particularly if they have the severe form of the condition.  Some foals are born with only a club foot or one affected limb affected, while others display a full spectrum of abnormalities including all four limbs contracted, wry nose and spinal curvature.  We believe that some forms of CFS are inherited.  This is based on the fact that some mares have produced up to four foals with CFS even though the mares were housed on different farms during their pregnancies and the foals were sired by different stallions. 

Contractures in foals are similar to some types of contractures described in humans.  Like humans, some horses can improve with physical therapy, splinting or surgery.  Other foals are so severely affected they must be euthanized.  Many types of limb contractures seen in humans are inherited while others occur by chance.  By comparing the types of contractures in horses to those seen in humans and by using the latest DNA tools we hope to identify any genetic component causing CFS in horses.

Other areas of investigation include parrot mouth, congenital cataracts, headshaker syndrome, choanal atresia, microphthalmia, and headshaking syndrome.  If you have a horse affected with any of these conditions and you are interested in participating in this research please contact me.


Maxwell H.Gluck Equine Research Center
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0099

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