A Horse of a Different Color: Texas A&M Helps Determine Equine Ancestry

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Those in the horse breeding industry understand that knowing the basic principles of genetics is integral to their livelihood. However, for those of us who would simply like to know and understand our own horse’s ancestry, there’s a route you can take which won’t require a degree, nor a mastery over science. Texas A&M can help you learn more about your horse through the use of their animal genetics lab, comparing their DNA genotype to a 50-horse reference panel of breeds.

According to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Animal Genetics Laboratory: “Throughout the years we collected and genotyped an extensive number of horse breeds and populations from around the world (see selected publications), however to represent our reference panel for ancestry testing we selected 50 breeds that are most common for the North America and also represent the major horse groups: draft horses; ponies; Oriental and Arabian breeds; Old World and New World Iberian breeds. Selected breeds are more probable to be the ancestors of current horses in North America and it would be unreasonable for us to use rare or endangered breeds like Waler (Australia), Timor pony (Timor Island), Cheju horse (a southern island of Korea), Namib horse (Africa), Tushuri horse (Georgia) or Pindos (Greece) and etc. Also some North American breeds are not on the list, – example: Appaloosa, American Paint horse, because registries are open or partially open and allow crossbreeding. Mustangs are also not on the breed list as it is now primarily a feral horse found in the western United States and managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Originally mustangs were Spanish horses or their descendants, however throughout the years they had influence from many different horse breeds. There are several mustang registries, but overall there is just too much complexity to consider them in breed ancestry analysis.”

A Horse of a Different Color: Texas A&M Can Help Determine Equine Ancestry

Photo: Flickr/Wolfgang Staudt

The lab can test your horse’s genetics using a computer program that analyses breed comparisons for genotype probabilities. A report that identifies the three breeds that have the highest probability of matching your horse’s ancestral breed is prepared based on these results, without providing percentage proportions (which isn’t a possibility due to the genetic similarity of horses).

If you’re interested in determining your horse’s ancestry, it’s easily possible with a quick contact to Texas A&M. A $40 fee is required per horse, together with a submission form (a sample of which is available here). When the testing is complete, you will be in receipt of two reports: a horse genotyping report (basically a DNA profile) and a horse ancestry report (including breed list.) To learn more about the lab and begin the process of finding your horse’s ancestry profile, click on the link provided here.