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The Fell Pony Society


Below are sources of information of particular interest to Fell Pony owners.

News from DEFRA, June 2023

The following from DEFRA has been circulated by the 826 Committee Chair:
"As I mentioned at the last Equine Disease Coalition meeting, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments had a couple of technical issues with our first pass at the Equine Exotic Disease Compensation (England) Order 2023 which we made earlier this year, which in practice meant that we had to make a couple of amendments and re-lay the Regulations before Parliament.
"I am pleased to say that this has now been done, and the new Equine Exotic Disease Compensation (England) (No 2) Order 2023 came into force on 14 June 2023.
"The Exotic Equine Diseases (Compensation) (England) (No. 2) Order 2023 ( "

Important information for all who export live animals to the EU. See particularly pages 7 and 12.

Animal Health Regulations (2021)


Weight Management,






The Laminitis Trust,


Equine Grass Sickness (the Moredun Foundation),

2021 call for data about cases: The Moredun Foundation and The Equine Grass Sickness Fund (EGSF), with generous support from the British Horse Society, have launched a nationwide biobank to gather samples relevant to grass sickness research. They really need people to read the info re samples, and sign up at an early stage of diagnosis as well as post treatment. It is a new research project which has funding for 3 years and looks at assessing all the factors which may lead to a solution.


Sweet Itch,

FIS Testing - update, April 2021

FIS testing is voluntary (unless applying for a stallion licence). An owner can therefore source a lab themselves or purchase a kit through the Society.

If purchased through the Society a vet must take the sample and check the identity of the pony by scanning the microchip and checking it against the passport. The result will be forwarded to the owner by the lab, via email, without the Society having sight of it. (An email address must be supplied on the sample packet for this purpose).

If an FIS test is done through another lab and then subsequently either an application is submitted for a stallion licence or the owner wishes to have the result recorded in the passport, then proof will be required – either sight of the certificate or confirmation from the relevant laboratory - that the pony has been tested. A letter will also be required from the vet who took the sample, confirming that the identity/microchip of the pony was also checked.

The Society uses Animal DNA Diagnostics, Cambridge, for FIS testing.

The carrier test became available from 1 February 2010. Kits can be purchased from the FPS office by sending the payment, see Registration and Fees page. The hair sample must be taken by a vet who must also complete the form on the sample bag before sending it Animal DNA Diagnostics in the envelope provided. The results of the test will be returned to the owner via email only.

Tests for sick foals (suspect FIS) should be arranged direct through the owners’ vet.

29 April 2021

Further information on FIS

A report of the EGM held on 19 January 2010 appeared in the Spring Magazine 2010.

Information on FIS testing via Animal DNA Diagnostics is available from the Society.

Simple explanation about how FIS is inherited, and how that can be prevented, with a diagram of all possible breeding combinations: 2016: FIS - Different breeding combinations and possible outcomes

Article by Bob Charlton written before the FIS test was found: Breed and We Will Succeed (2006). It contains another explanation of the "lottery" of recessive genetics, and should be read alongside the information from the links above.

Paper on FIS (2013) - Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome: carrier testing has markedly reduced disease incidence

Professor Stuart Carter (University of Liverpool Veterinary School) published a paper showing that the number of FIS foals born each year dropped to very low levels after FIS testing started in 2010.

The paper can be found via this link:
Veterinary Record

A summary of the paper is as follows:

The carrier test for the fatal Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome (FIS) has been available at Newmarket for 3 years and two full breeding seasons. In that time many of you have submitted samples from your ponies and foals and then used the information for safe breeding combinations (clear with clear or clear with carrier) and avoided carrier/carrier combinations.

Stuart has analysed the FIS test data (anonymously) over the last 3 years and shown that:

1. A large number of ponies have been tested

2. The numbers of FIS foals has dropped dramatically in all breeds tested (only 1 foal tested positive in 2012). This is an excellent outcome and very clear evidence of breeders and scientists working together to improve animal welfare and much credit should go to the owners/breeders for enabling the research programme and for then conscientiously using the carrier test to stop FIS foals being born.

Testing of potential breeding ponies will need to be continued as the current breeding strategy (allowing carriers to breed with clears) will not reduce the large numbers of carriers; however, the majority of current breeding ponies have already been tested and it will just be necessary to test new animals selected for breeding in the future.

It has been a long journey to get to this point, but is justification for the considerable efforts of many individuals over many years and the eventual outcome.

Professor Stuart Carter

22 April 2013


New HBLB App helps keep horses safe from infection

EquiBioSafe is a portable, user-friendly and interactive synopsis of both the HBLB Disease Control Codes of Practice for Breeders and the National Trainers Federation (NTF) Codes of Practice for racehorse trainers. Please see details here: EquiBioSafe document 26 July 2016


The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) 2012 Codes of Practice on equine diseases,


Scottish Government's Biosecurity for Horses leaflet: basic biosecurity measures that can be applied by anyone, as well as information on Equine Infectious Anaemia, African Horse Sickness and West Nile Virus.



National Foaling Bank,


Foals born with respiratory distress - step by step instructions for CPR to avoid the death of the foal or hypoxic brain injury (dummy foal syndrome). There is an app for iPhone:


Seasonal Pasture Myopathy

Seasonal Pasture Myopathy (SPM), previously known as Atypical Myopathy, is caused by sycamore poisoning due to Hypoglycin A.


The following steps can be taken to reduce horses' risk of developing atypical myopathy:

Provide supplementary forage during Autumn.
Clear fallen sycamore leaves and seeds / seedlings from grazing areas - mow, collect and dispose of the cut grass and seedlings, eg by burning. Don't harrow seeds/seedlings as it can make the problem worse.
Check neighbouring areas for high risk trees, eg mature sycamores upwind of your pasture, as the ‘helicopter’ seeds can travel up to 200 yards
There is a sycamore sample test for identifying plants that contain the HGA toxin known to cause atypical myopathy. Test for the presence of them in your own horses’ pastures.

Further information is available from the Royal Veterinary College(unfortunately there are some dead links on that page but the RVC fact file on seasonal myopathy is here), the BHS web site(lots of good practical advice) and Equine Health Online.
Updated 30 April 2022


Equine Infectious Anaemia

The Chief Veterinary Officer (UK) confirmed a case of Equine Infectious Anaemia in a horse stabled in Cornwall (3 October 2012).

Further information is available here