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Horse DNA Testing
 By Winniefield Park   •   9th Nov 2017   •   1,453 views   •   0 comments


I had a bad start to September after losing my Jack Russell to liver tumors. I vowed I was going to take a year off dogs and three days later, was filling out adoption papers with a local Jack Russell rescue. September 16, Sammy, a Jack Russell x pup became part of the family. When I adopted him, it was suggested that we get him DNA tested to find out what his ancestry actually is. DNA testing to determine the mix of your non-purebred dog is quite common. Itís not one hundred percent accurate but can reveal some of the breeds in your dogís background. Unfortunately, if you have a grade horse, DNA wonít help you learn what breeds are in its pedigree. Just the same, DNA testing for horses can be very useful. Hereís a look at just what can be learned through a DNA test.

Coat Color
Those who breed for specific coat colors or patterns can find DNA analysis very useful. Coat color is determined by genetics. Although you canít determine the exact color and coat pattern of a foal, you will get a good indication of whether a horse could produce a foal of a certain coat pattern. DNA testing gives breeders a more reliable way to chose horses for breeding color rather than just picking a likely mare and foal and hoping for the best.

Gait
A horseís gait is determined by specific genetic traits. Some horses have them, and some donít. If the horse has a single gene variant, called DMRT3, that will allow them to organize their gaits beyond the basic walk, trot, canter. Horses without DMRT3 will not be able to gait like a Paso Fino, Saddlebred, Standardbred or other gaited horse breeds.

Speed
Itís said that DNA analysis is changing how Thoroughbreds are being bred for racing. Up until the availability of DNA testing, and a discovery of Ďspeed genesí, breeding for the track has been a bit like a combination of gut feeling and practiced eye combined with mathematics. But now, DNA analysis can help breeders match horses with desirable genetics to produce foals with the right type of muscle fiber and other characteristics to win races of specific distances. This doesnít automatically mean they will win races because a lot of things determine whether a horse is successful, from diet and training to courage and temperament.

Disease
There are several genetic equine diseases. Testing for diseases like HYPP, Lavender Foal Syndrome, and others can help breeders avoid producing horses that carry on these undesirable traits.

Ancestry
While the breeding of a horse canít be determined with 100% accuracy through DNA analysis, whether a horse is related to another horse can be. This is why when there is a question of whether a foal is the offspring of a certain horse, DNA testing can provide the answer. Some breeds have distinctive genetics too, like Spanish Mustangs, whose ancestors were the first horses brought to North America by the Spaniards. But unless these genetic markers are known, itís not possible to pinpoint a horseís breed.

Behaviour
While we arenít yet breeding horse behavior based on their DNA analysis, scientists have discovered differences in the genetic makeup of certain types of horses. DNA may determine how quickly a horse learns, how reactive it is and other qualities that we would like to keep or suppress.

Identification
If you arenít breeding your horse, there are no genetic disorders youíre worried about and if you donít care who its parents are you probably donít need DNA analysis, right? Turns out that DNA can play an important role in the identification of any horse. Brands and tattoos get blurred, microchips malfunction and one horse can look very much like another. But, a horseís DNA is like a fingerprint that is completely unique. For this reason alone, horse owners may want a DNA analysis to ID their horse. That way if the horse is lost or stolen, once recovered, there is no doubt about identity with a DNA test in hand.
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