Thursday, March 4, 2010

HYPP-othetically Dangerous or Not?

I have been debating whether or not to tackle the subject of the sale of HYPP positive horses on this blog. I have come to the conclusion that one can never fight this battle too much. While my intent here is not to write a paper on HYPP, some background information is necessary,  since there are STILL people out there that believe the myths and untruths, or just flat out don't know anything about it at all. I have three examples that will blow your minds as much as it did mine. 

HYPP, or Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis, is a genetic, inherited equine disease, originating with the AQHA stallion Impressive that affects the horse's nervous system by screwing with the sodium channels and flooding the system with extreme amounts of Potassium. This creates symptoms such as "mild muscle twitching that is undetectable to the human eye; noticeable muscle twitching; "crawling" skin, ranging from slight to very noticeable and usually from the back flank area forward; hind quarter paralysis; excessive yawning; and paralysis of the muscles surrounding the heart and/or lungs, causing death due to heart attack or suffocation" (quoted from here). 

IN laymans terms, these horses literally, can freeze up in a paralytic state at any time, under any circumstances. In their stalls, in the pasture, under saddle. It is especially dangerous for a rider mounted on a HYPP horse, because they could have an attack at any time. IF they have an attack while under saddle, they will loose complete control over their limbs, and they WILL go down to the ground, hard. The rider, unless experienced enough to understand how to safely get off, will be thrown off in some manner. Often times the manner of the rider being thrown from the horses causes in injury or in rare cases, permanent paralysis or death from broken necks and spines. This article about HYPP states in the 10th paragraph down, the debate whether or not to ride these horses, and states that in all of the respondents that argued that while they had positve mounts, not a single one had an attack during a ride. Yet, here (third example down) is a story about a teenage girl that had her HYPP Positive horse go down during a ride

Physically, these horses often look like, and are often referred to as the 'bodybuilders' of the Halter world. They are highly sought after as AQHA halter horses because of the extreme Muscling, size, and sheer bulk they naturally have. They get this way due to their muscles in nearly constant motion, twitching from obvious spasms, to the tiniest quivers. The constant contract and relaxing of the muscles is exactly the same biological mechanisms that happen when a human bodybuilder lifts weights. It tears the muscle fibers apart, so when the body rebuilds them, they are stronger, larger, and thicker. 

HYPP Positive horses often are a-symptomatic through birth until anywhere between training and death. Yes, this is a wide time frame, but an attack can come on at any time. 

An attack happens without warning, without preamble, and at any time. It is widely believed attacks are triggered by stress, extreme changes in schedule, training, feed, surroundings, etc. 

Now, these horses inherit this disease through no fault of their own, as the disease is being KNOWINGLY perpetuated by owners of mares and stallions that are N/H. 

What does N/H mean? Its the genetic status of a horse that has the defective gene. Horses that come from known bloodlines that are positive yet did not inherit the gene are N/N. Horses with one positive genetic marker are N/H, and horses that have two genetic markers are H/H. 

Very simply, by breeding a N/H horse to a N/N horse, the resulting foal has a 1 in 2 chance of carrying the positive gene. You have a H/H horse, every single offspring of that horse will have the positive marker, and will have the disease. Not carry it, have it. Exhibit symptoms. Have to specially managed their entire lives. Cost more in Vet fees and feed fees than the average horse. Why? Why is the almighty dollar so powerful that otherwise caring people suddenly become heartless about creating more defective horses?

The controversey surrounding HYPP is one that will not end until the largest breed of horse, the breed that started it all, the mighty AQHA, finally puts it foot down and says NO MORE to breeding its thousands of HYPP H/H and HYPP N/H horses. This list is just a sample of horses that have been found out to be N/H. Here's Page Two. 

Just a bit more information before I showcase todays ads; AQHA's Official Stance on HYPP; UC Davis's Equine Research Lab on HYPP.

So, after all that, why would people actually breed sick horses? Because they win, right? Because their bloodlines are so stellar and irreplaceable that a mare owner can't go anywhere else to find the same, or similar bloodlines? Conscientious people are breeding decedents of Impressive that have his infamous bull dog look, but don't share his dirty gene.

Ad Number 1 today, posted 3/3/10 from the Columbus, OH area. 


Ad Text: 

2002 AQHA 16 HH (So, this horse is a double positive, which means its not IF but WHEN he has an attack, which odds are will eventually prove fatal.) 

Sorrel halter gelding, (at least this one is a gelding!) own son of Wincredible. (Who IS a known HYPP Positive stallion, see below...)  

Has to date 347 AQHA points including youth, amateur and open points. Has earned 77 grands and 94 reserves in the American Quarte Horse Association and won over $10,000 in incentive fund earnings. (And this is why the halter industry keeps breeding these sick, doomed horses, because AQHA, at the top showing levels, will NOT stop pinning these horses top ten!!! Dont believe me? Check out this link! She goes into the finances behind breeding HYPP Positive horses, and goes on to list on the site Well Known Currently Breeding Stallions that have owners NOT disclosing their Postitive HYPP Status. Oh, and Wincredible is one of them. His owner will gladly accept a $2,500 stud fee though!)

This gelding is HYPP H/H, but do not let this scare you as this is not a problem and he can be put on a daily medication to prevent an attack as a precaution. (What magikal medicine is this? There are several drugs that can help prevent attack, but its like taking Vitamin-C to prevent ever getting a cold or the flu. You can take massive quantities of VC and eventually you will get sick. A HYPP H/H horse is eventually going to have an attack. There is nothing any vet can do to prevent that. Its just managing the horse as best as we can to put it off as long as possible.)

This gelding can be easily maintained by a youth or amateur; (This is the sad part where some unknowing parent is going to seriously look at this poor gelding and consider purchasing it for their up and coming 4-H'er,  not having a clue what HYPP is, and what it does to the horse...not even mentioning what it does to the poor child who has to watch his/her beloved horse suffer through an attack! There are several experiences recounted on that tell of parents unknowingly buying HYPP horses for their children, and the horror their children have to witness when the horse goes down. Some children never recover emotionally from the devastation and sheer helplessness they feel toward the horse/attack, and never ever go back to horses again. Thats then one more child that doesn't grow up to defend horses against abuse or breeders of HYPP. One more child that will not save a horse from nearly being slaughtered. One more child that will spend their hard earned dollars outside of the horse industry.)

He is an extremely easy keeper. (Nearly all HYPP horses are easy keepers because they sit there in their stalls and their muscles twitch and grow and it looks like they put on weight from air!)

 He has qualified for the aqha open world, youth world and amatuer world and was only shown a total of three times at the world and was top ten all three times. This gelding also has a congress top tens as well. In 2009 he was reserve champion aged gelding at the region 4 regional experience in the open division. More picutres available on his online video on just type in "Sir Wincredible" and the linke will come up. (What can I say here except what I already have said? This bloodline has a genetic defect that will kill this gelding. End of story.)

 Asking $2500 OBO. Only selling him as we are looking for a young pleasure prospect. (Possibly because you have witnessed this horse experiencing an attack and maybe someone said something to you about having/breeding a H/H horse? Or maybe you are just looking to dump him because the owners don't want to deal with the disease?)

Not open to trades or partial trades. Would make a great youth or amateur gelding (um, NO he wouldn't!) and will take you all the way. This gelding has had weight pulled off this winter to let him rest but is currently being fit back up to begin showing in May.


So why is it that not once on his entire ad, did the seller mention his show name? If he was that accomplished, that well shown, and I had to sell this horse (sans the HYPP), I'd be blasting his name everywhere to attract those other competitors that saw him compete, hoping one of them would remember him and remember how much they would have liked to have own him themselves. Wanna bet that the owners don't want to be attached publicly to the sale of this horse?

(Quick Self Edit). I am guessing this horse's name is "Sir Wincredible". As I have been writing this, I've been following links all over the place, and checked out the you tube video mentioned in the ad. 

This is the video.  It appears they have had him up for sale for some time, and have dropped the price down quite a bit... the video lists it as $8500 OBO, the CL ad is $2500 OBO. Owners must be getting desperate to dump this poor gelding, wonder how long it will take for this guy to find himself at the local auction, paperless and amazingly enough, HYPP-status suddenly unknown?

Apparently, Wincredible's website,, has also been pulled, no where could I find any website for him. Now I did find the currently listed owners on the quarter horse directory, but as you can see, Wincredible is no longer listed on their website.

I will continue this post tomorrow, as I have spent much longer than I anticipated researching this topic, and work is starting to loom near for the day. Tomorrow I'll have the other ad, and another breeding stallion that is HYPP N/H, yet the breeding contract is .... something else.


  1. Good post. Two things:

    First, the first HH in the ad ("16 HH") might refer to the horse's height instead of his HYPP status, although I've usually seen it in lower-case letters (as an abbreviation for "hands high" I assume).

    Second, the Internet Archive - - may have a copy of available.

  2. I originally did mis-read the first HH as H/H, and made the comments I did. It wasn't until a few days later I realized the mistake. I just never went back to correct it. Consider it author error I guess.

    I also did check the archive, google cashe, and came up with zilch. I spent a good 2 days researching ads, sites, and articles before I wrote this out. If it still existed, I would have found it :(.

    Thanks for the compliments though!

  3. Couple of thoughts.

    1. It would be good if the horse mortality insurance companies would cease to insure these animals. They are all going to die at a much younger age. I wonder that no one has approached them on this. If they didn't insure them, then people wouldn't be so hot to produce $10,000 horses that can never be insured as a result of having both copies of the gene or even carrying one....

    2. Someone needs to get hurt. Bad. The horse falling on them and injuring or killing them (and of course, it will happen one day) and hope that a hot shot lawyer picks up on this and sues the crap out of the breeder and those who have owned this horse before and said it was "safe". If they can go against companies for someone working there 30 years ago and being exposed to asbestos and then developing mesothelioma, then a good lawyer should be able to make a case for those that knowingly produce H/H or H/N horses and the danger they represent to anyone within a 10 foot circle around them.

  4. I have a double positive yearling who was bred for the shear purpose to do halter. Her previous owner bred her N/H horse to another N/H horse and got my little H/H horse. They spent $3000 dollars on her stud fee. Then at one year old they were going to put her down b/c she couldnt be registered which is all they were looking for; a registered halter horse to show. My cousin directed me to her and told me her story and that the people were going to put her down. I quickly interjected and got her for free. yes you heard me, this horse that could probably be worth 10000 they just handed to me for free. They told me she was fine and that she had never had an attack. I find this to be bull. The very first night she had an attack and almost died if it werent for the people im boarding at. She has had a few severe attacks and some minor attacks. But she has made it so far and I do plan on riding her. She trusts me with the world already and I have only had her since this march 2010. I agree with alot that you say, that they should ban people from breeding but thats also like telling someone to not have a baby if they have a high risk of cancer. Im VERY glad though that will not register double positive horses now. It stops alot of this crappy stuff from happening.