The above filly is a three year old by Spooks Gotta Gun. She shares her sires bald face, floppy ears and blue eyes, and also her fathers genetic deafness.
In a very interesting article titled “Equine Genetic Deafness”by Susan Morrison in the Quarter horse news magazine, Morrison starts her article stating that it is more than speculation that splashed white Paint Horses, or any horse with blue eyes and excessive white markings over its face, can be deaf.
The APHA’s “Guide to Coat Color Genetics” refers to deafness in a section on the splashed white pattern – that of the above filly. “Some people have observed that many splashed white horses are deaf,” the booklet states. “This is not much of a problem if the trainer realizes the limitations of the horse in question and modifies the training program to meet the horse’s special needs. Many of those horses go on to lead normal and productive lives.”
Morrison mentions interestingly that “Although it’s rare among horses as a whole, deafness has become more frequent in the reining arena ” this being due to the popularity of sires such Spooks Gotta Gun and his brother Colonels Smokingun.
Dam of both horses, is Katie Gun; considered one of the top dams of Reining horses in the world. Spooks Gotta Gun was sired by Grays Starlight.
A large percentage of the foals by these lines are deaf, though those that ride and train these stallions dont seem to think this is much of a problem.
Interestingly in the article, Spooks owner says of deaf horses. “The only difference is, when you go into the stall, you just make sure they know you’re there. They will get startled if they’re turned the other way or sleeping, and all of a sudden you show up,”
In the case of the above filly, training was interesting initially , since she was unusually un-afraid of objects other horses would worry about (whips, plastic bags around the legs, rugs etc) - but could (as mentioned above) get a fright if people approached her from behind or if other horses came galloping up alng side. She is an affectionate filly. Likes a good cuddle, and seems to really enjoy her training, but I know from talking to Franco that he has had to get inventive since voice cues cannot be used. One advantage of owning a deaf horse is that she will never spook in response to loud noises – which can only be seen as an advantage for reiners…
Coat-color-associated deafness is a similar syndrometo the one that causes deafness in white, blue-eyed cats and Dalmatian dogs.
If you think you may have a deaf horse you will notice that these horses have less of a flight reflex than their paddock mates and that they may sleep more than other horses. They may be less aggressive as colts/young stallions – and you may notice that they seem spooky when you approach them even though you have been chatting away as you come closer.
Want to know more? Read this great article that appeared in the Dec. 15, 2007 issue of QHN. : http://quarterhorsenews.com/index.php?Itemid=1&id=105&option=com_content&task=view#ixzz2JD7K9WGl