Return to Questions and Answers Index

Q&A    Questions and Answers:


I have a 6 year old BS [Breeding Stock] paint that I have recently started barrels with (work in progress), but I have been told that with the Impressive bloodlines, this will never happen. I only compete on an open level. What do you think?

T. S.


If you're asking what I think you're asking, the only way to predict what's ahead for your paint is to have your vet do a DNA test for HyPP (technically, Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis).

If there haven't been any episodes of muscle tremors or weakness so far, you may have dodged the bullet. Horses with HyPP usually show some signs of the disease by age three or four, but a DNA test is the only way to know for sure.

If the test comes back positive, there's still hope. Your vet can advise you on a treatment program and tell you just how far you'll be able to push that critter in the arena. There are even special feeds on the market designed specifically for HyPP positive horses.

And, if worse comes to worst, you can just switch to a style of riding that places less emphasis on muscles and more on the horse's response to training -- dressage, for example.

I hope this helps a bit. For what it's worth, when I got Willy several experienced horse people told me that he'd never be ridable and that I should have him put down. He did, in fact, die -- 17 years, a few thousand miles, and more than 300 riding students later!

Please keep me posted on what you find -- and God bless!


Thanks, Bob, for getting back to me. So, does that mean that, in your opinion, horses with Impressive bloodlines don't make bad riding horses even under pressure, like with barrel racing. Have you ever heard of this to be true?


Yep, that's correct.

The problem with riding a horse with HyPP is that you never really know when it's going to be hit by a muscle weakness, respiratory problem, or paralysis. Exercise itself isn't harmful to a HyPP positive horse, and may actually be beneficial. You just don't want to be on board a running horse when an attack hits.

If, on the other hand, the DNA test comes back negative for HyPP, I know of no reason you shouldn't be able to compete with your horse. After all, Impressive himself was, well, impressive! (And, in my experience, barrel racing success lies more in the skill of the rider than in the athletic ability of the horse.)


Have you heard of horses that are HYPP positive having generally bad attitudes, stubborn, etc? I have sent the hairs in for testing as of today so we'll see.


I suppose all creatures (humans included) can have a negative attitude when they feel weak, have trouble breathing, etc. Other than that, I don't recall hearing of bad attitudes being more common among HyPP horses than among others.

Let me know how that test turns out. [Good news! -- The test results came back and her horse not only does not have the disease, it's not even a carrier of the HyPP gene!]

Previous Question  |  Next Question

Return arrow Return to Questions and Answers Index

Return arrow Return to the "Learning More About Horses..." page

  The contents of this document are not for reproduction.