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Genetic improvement of the horse (Chapter 17)

By T. Arnason, L. Dale Van Vleck

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From the time man domesticated horses some 5000-6000 years ago, horses have been subject to many forms of artificial selection that have resulted in gradual genetic changes. Differences found among breeds of horses are due to forces of artificial as well as natural selection, in addition to random change.

Today there is growing interest in application of scientific animal breeding theory to accomplish genetic improvement of valuable traits in many existing horse populations. This chapter will briefly introduce the tools available from animal breeding theory for the utilization of genetic variability within horse populations for genetic improvement. Successful application of modern knowledge of genetic improvement in animals, however, presumes that breeders have clearly defined breeding goals, that breeding populations are relatively large and, last but not least, that breeders are willing to accept scientific methods and to cooperate in a breeding programme. The same genetic principles, of course, are applicable for breeding of horses as for other farm animals.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2000
Publication Title The Genetics of the Horse
Pages 473-497
Publisher CABI Publishing
Location of Publication New York
Language English
Notes This book chapter was found at Digital Commons @ the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal science
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Breeding
  4. Genetic variation
  5. Health
  6. Horse racing
  7. Horses
  8. Mammals
  9. racing