Monday, July 9, 2018

Heritability of Traits in Horses

Back in 1997 I was in Germany and was privileged to hear a talk given by Dr. Ludwig Christmann. In it he described some of his research into the heritability of traits in horses, and how some traits were connected to others genetically. So if we breed for a good canter, we will very likely get another trait along with that. If we're lucky it might be another one we want - or it could be an unintended consequence that we really do not want.

The research continues. There is an article on about which genes are responsible for certain traits, and which ones tend to come along with them whether we want them or not. It's just fascinating! 

For example, chestnut horses have had a reputation among some breeders as being sensitive, even "hot" - and this rep turns out to have a basis in genetic facts. The same genetic mutation in people "results in red hair, along with increased sensitivity to the sun and a lower pain tolerance. In horses, a similar mutation produces a chestnut coat color." ... "This might make a chestnut-coated horse more sensitive to environmental stimuli."

Another bit of research is reported that looks at mapping the genes for spooking behavior.

Click here to read the full article.

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