cresty necks on show horses, is it ever right?

oldie48

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I've been looking at some pics of Welsh D's, some have enormous cresty necks but seem to do well showing, frankly they would worry the hell of out me. I'm not into showing but wondered if breeding lines are being selected for this trait and is it putting the breed at greater risk of EMS than it already is. I'd be interested in your thoughts.
 

ester

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For me it depends on the rest of them
and if they are a boy or not.
Frank at 23 still has a good neck, but it is muscle/he is fit- it was beefier when I bought him and he was very overweight but the rest of him wobbled as well! Many show welshies are grossly overweight all over not just their necks although they do then surprise me how well they canter round the large main ring at builth
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oldie48

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No geldings but I'm intrigued to know why it's OK for section D's to be cresty but it's a danger for other breeds. As far as I can tell, Welshies have a high incidence of EMS but it's still OK for them have a fatty crest, I just don't understand, hence my question.
Are they stallions? Sec D stallions are usually fairly cresty.
 

Equi

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They tend to have thicker necks anyway. Like Friesans and shires Etc. yes many are just fat, but many just have a thick neck.
 

AdorableAlice

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They tend to have thicker necks anyway. Like Friesans and shires Etc. yes many are just fat, but many just have a thick neck.

They do, my Welsh D gelding was a hunter all his life and lived on his nerves, by the end of the season he looked like a pipe cleaner but his neck never changed from solid muscle and crest. He was also very strong to ride.
 

Lambkins

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My welshie is dressage fit .. I think he has a deep neck ( and muscles ) rather than cresty ?

We gave up showing as he is not 'heavy enough'

image_zpswkhaqll4.jpg
 

ester

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No geldings but I'm intrigued to know why it's OK for section D's to be cresty but it's a danger for other breeds. As far as I can tell, Welshies have a high incidence of EMS but it's still OK for them have a fatty crest, I just don't understand, hence my question.

How do you know it is a fatty crest without getting your hands on them? I think in a lot it is muscle because at the end of the day they are bred to have chunky muscley necks.
 

tallyho!

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Some breeds are more predisposed to storing fat on their crests, particularly stallions, but some mares too.

I think you have to take into account the whole picture e.g. fat pads elsewhere to determine if it's a sign of obesity.

Famously, spanish stallions have enormously "cresty" necks but it's more to do with how they are bred and ridden over there. Out in the field, they don't look that bad!
 

ester

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This mare had quite the neck on her, given that it was 1940s I don't imagine there was an ounce of fat on her though!
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tallyho!

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Goes to show that some just have the desired neck shape. The fact you see big necks at shows is indicative of the fashion now. Of course, its great if you have naturally high set, broad shouldered and lifted between the trunk forehand that gives the impression above. Much more so if the horse is fit and working well.

HOwever, we do certainly see a high number of false impressions - artificially pumped up versions that try to emulate a truly well bred, well put together horse.

Cresty necks however can be seen from a young age and has to be managed really carefully.
IMG_0783_zps40c498cf.jpg
 

oldie48

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TBH your comment has stated what I was driving at, there seem to be an increasing number of people who believe that a Welsh should have a cresty neck and the crestier the better! The breed (along with other breeds) has a very high incidence of EMS and I wonder if that is because firstly, people are breeding from those horses that have a very cresty neck rather than the "desired" neck shape so are genetically more predisposed to EMS and secondly because people allow their horses to develop cresty necks to make them more fashionable. I personally feel there's a big difference between topline and crest but others don't. Frankly I've looked at pictures of successful show animals that are to my eyes grossly overweight. I understand that there are judges who still say to owners with horses at a fit weight that the horse needs more "body" or show condition when in fact they mean, it needs to be fatter!
Goes to show that some just have the desired neck shape. The fact you see big necks at shows is indicative of the fashion now. Of course, its great if you have naturally high set, broad shouldered and lifted between the trunk forehand that gives the impression above. Much more so if the horse is fit and working well.

HOwever, we do certainly see a high number of false impressions - artificially pumped up versions that try to emulate a truly well bred, well put together horse.

Cresty necks however can be seen from a young age and has to be managed really carefully.
IMG_0783_zps40c498cf.jpg
 

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There are a lot of Welsh cobs in this area and I see everything from broodies on the hills with their foals, fit ridden ones to obese in-hand ones. Some of the ridden ones do still have big necks (generally the males) but the necks look hard and muscular. On the really obese horses they have not only a big, soft looking neck, but a huuuuuge gutter down their back and fat pads on the shoulders that wobble. So the big neck is only part of the whole picture.
 

milliepops

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How do you know it is a fatty crest without getting your hands on them? I think in a lot it is muscle because at the end of the day they are bred to have chunky muscley necks.

Agree that some of them seem to be just enormously fat, but this is a good point.
My section D came to me as a giant pudding, she is now fairly lean and quite fit and has muscled up incredibly fast. Her neck is huge and solid muscle :)
Millie has good topline but it has taken much longer to achieve. Kira is a tank, naturally.
 

ester

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I'm not sure we known enough about EMS yet to know how much of it is genetic predisposition and how much is just poor management.

I'm glad someone posted again, it took me a while to pick the best pic!
 

Crackerz

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I'm not sure we known enough about EMS yet to know how much of it is genetic predisposition and how much is just poor management.

I'm glad someone posted again, it took me a while to pick the best pic!

There is a lot of EMS research going on at the moment, i think it's pretty interesting finding all this stuff out.

My Sec D has a naturally huge neck, even when he falls on the leaner side, like most good quality well set Sec D's.
 

pennyturner

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My welsh A (gelding) gets a neck on him like a camel's hump. It's how he stores his fat, even when he's fit. He has never had hard feed in his life, and is allowed to go quite lean each winter. Even when his tail bone starts showing he's still got a visible crest. Some are just made that way.

He's never had a day lame in his life.
 

oldie48

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Many of the native breeds have what is described a a "thrift" gene which means they can store fat more easily than other breeds when there is a good food source to use when times become hard. I'm sure it's somewhat more complex then that but it's a useful shorthand way of describing it. As these breeds come from harsh areas of very poor grazing where they will need to graze a very wide area to survive, so get poor nutrition + lots of exercise, put them in a domestic situation better nutrition + less exercise and they bulk up very quickly, with the neck being a pretty effective fat store. I think what worries me is that because so many of them are cresty and overweight generally, it's what people expect to see.
 

ester

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To me all natives are like that though and then it is just poor management of them that develops the EMS.

The question is whether a) all of a breed have it and it is just about being a 'good doer' and that poor management results in EMS/IR. b) there is some sort of additional fat storage gene linked to EMS/cresty necks (which I think is sort of what you are getting at) that we are breeding in to them.
and I just don't think we know the answer yet/I haven't seen any research that supports either.
 

fatpiggy

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I do not understand how more of these animals in "show condition" do not have laminitis.

I once asked a breeder about this and she said do you remember the show ponies X, Y and Z from the 1980s? I did, they were big names. She asked me if I knew what had happened to them and I supposed the mares had been retired for breeding. She said no, they all had laminitis and were PTS, bar one who was sold to the US.
 

oldie48

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http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0503.x/full

This is an interesting piece of research. It mentions familial patterns and also scoring for a cresty neck, which might help people to decide if they have a problem or not, however, what I found particularly interesting is that fat stored in a cresty neck, even if the rest of the horse is lean, can act as an endocrine organ and secrete hormones which may be instrumental in a number of diseases.
 

pennyturner

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I have an elderly Dartmoor pony who became, in his late 20s cresty, with sunken back, fat pockets on hips, shoulders etc.

He went downhill, and I was at the point of deciding to PTS (for various reasons, he can only be conservatively managed, so drugs not an option), when as his weight dropped very low, he appeared to turn a corner.
Once all of that body fat had gone, it was as though his metabolism reset, and he started putting the weight back on normally, and returned quickly to full work and good health.

5 years on, he is still looking great. I believe the hormones produced by those fat pockets were the cause of his ill health.
 

Annagain

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My old boy (a Sec D) had a very muscular cresty neck which never really went even when he was semi-retired and only hacking in walk and trot for 15-20 minutes. He got quite fat as he was very difficult to keep weight off without hard work but his neck was never anything other than hard and muscled. He wasn't cut until he was nearly 3 so I think some of it was a result of that, it developed young and stayed with him.

At 24, I made the decision to let him enjoy his semi-retirement and if he got fat so be it. If that weight affected him, either through laminitis or joint problems, I would call it a day. I'd rather he was happier for a shorter retirement than kept slim and maybe have a longer retirement but cooped up in a stable for half of it. As it happened, he never had a problem because of it. I lost him to colic very unexpectedly at 27.
 

EQUIDAE

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My sec D has had a very muscular cresty neck since he was a 2yo - even when there isn't an ounce of fat on him. They are a breed who have thick set necks and it's not always fat.
 

pennandh

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A lot of the large M&M breeds have naturally thick-set necks even before they build any fat up, as do cobs. And you do have to allow for the fact that both stallions and late-cut geldings will stubbornly retain a small fat deposit on the crest even when hard fit.

That being said, there are a tremendous amount of overweight horses/ponies in the show ring today - I honestly cringe sometimes when watching cobs and heavyweight hunters who would probably keel over if faced with a half-day's hunting, even allowing for the fact that most horses are a little rounder in the summer because of the mild weather and good grazing. And don't get me started on the 'cobs' that are, in fact, small hunters with too little length of rein which have been bulked up to try to make them look more type-y.

If there's no fat deposits anywhere else, a modest crest is fine - probably just a bit of stray testosterone ensuring padding against neck/wither bites in stallion fights that don't really tend to happen between domesticated horses due to human interference in 'herd' structure (aka turnout groups). Still, a really huge crest is a bit of a worry, and a genuinely fat horse has no place in the show ring.
 
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