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The effect of the “gait keeper” gene on performance in Finnhorses

From Alustavat tutkimukset suomenhevosten ravivarmuusgeenitutkimuksesta kuultiin Jalostuspäivillä (Hippos.fi 11.2.2015)

Camri (10) and Tekno Odin (6) Photo Suomen Hippos/Ilkka Nisula

Kim Jäderkvist is a Swedish PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (www.slu.se). She visited Finland in February and gave a presentation about their study on the DMRT3, or the “gait keeper” gene on Finnhorses.

This gene mutation (A-variant) enables the horse to trot at fast speed without proceeding into gallop.

Earlier studies have shown that the gaited breeds, such as standardbred trotters, Tennessee walkers, Rocky Mountain horses, Icelandic horses and Peruvian pasos commonly have this mutation (AA), but many other, non-gaited breeds, such as thoroughbreds, Gotland ponies and many draft breeds don’t (CC).

Actually, the mutation was originally found from Icelandic horses during a study about the summer eczema.

Of course it’s important to remember that the mutation doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the horse will be a successful trotter. But these studies have shown that having that A-allele gives better odds. On the other hand the CC-horses more often have three clear gaits, which is a good trait for a riding horse.

Kim’s presentation was published online as well, you can find it here. (It’s in English!)

The recent study got sample hair from 180 Finnhorses with trotting performance data and 59 Finnhorses that were used for riding (altogether 239 horses).

I sent a few of Elyse’s hair to this study as well. I got the results a few weeks ago, she represents the CA-type. These heterozygous A-carriers have shown more varying performance on the race tracks, something between the AA and CC horses.

More to read

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