More Genetics!

And more exclamation points apparently. I must be in a very exciting mood.

So, I have been reading up on the genetics behind gaited horses. Fascinating stuff almost as fun as color genetics. I do spend large portions of my days sitting on the couch and I might as well spend it reading something educational. The problem is that the time I spend sitting here is constantly interrupted by the very reason I am sitting  here in the first place. I am always loosing my train of thought, started the first couple of sentences yesterday adding some more today. It’s one thing when I am saying oh look my kids are so cute another when I am trying to make sense of the genetics behind gait in horses.

Those cool sweeds, I guess along with some others and lead by a guy named Lief Anderson a name I can remember because every time I read it I think he was the guy that discovered America then I remember no that was Lief Erickson, anyway they discovered a gene mutation that is responsible for ALL gaiting in horses. So we have a starting piont. But how does it pass?

I have been theorizing that it must be recessive because of the way it can pop up in families of non-gaited horses like the way red pops up among black cattle. But, the way I am interpreting this at least, it looks like it’s dominant. If you don’t read the whole article this is what it says in part:

“The DMRT3 gene variant we have identified is permissive for alternative gaits in horses. Traditional three-gaited horses such as most dressage and show jumping horses, draft horses and Thoroughbreds are homozygous for the C-variant (CC). Horses that can perform alternative gaits have the A-variant.  Most Icelandic Horses with two copies of the A variant (AA) can perform both pace and the ambling gait tölt while horses with one copy (CA) can only perform tölt.”

I am taking all this to mean that the gait is either there or not and can’t be lurking in the background. Like grey it can’t be hidden, non grey horses can not have a grey baby. I remember when we bought Onna and Grace, another mare same age by the same stud and definitely not gaited, nothing on the place was gaited. Of course I don’t remember any of them being broke to ride either. Is it possible that both of her parents carried one of the gaiting gene and preferred to trot, no one paid enough attention to them running out in the pasture to ever notice if the occasionally moved funny? I did find one article that touched on this a little. It said:

“In tests on Icelandic horses, the researchers found that all horses that paced (2-beat
lateral gait) were homozygous for the mutation—they had two copies. However, the majority of the horses that did not pace,
but only racked, had only a single copy of the mutation. In practical terms this means that all horses that can pace can also
rack, but not all horses that can rack can pace. Furthermore, all of the progeny of a pacer will be able to rack, even if bred to
a non-gaited horse.”
I propose that both of her parents may have carried the gene because of her ability to pace, I have ridden her very few times gotten into a gait even less but of those few times she has offered a hard pace twice.
As further evidence I offer Jerry. She does not pace, when starting her I was pretty sure she was able to gait but had to work hard to get the gait as she preferred to trot. Her colt was decidedly not gaited. When I was looking for a horse I was talking to a lady who was very familiar with gaited Morgans she didn’t have any for sale but she had been out to the Arapaho Ranch and when looking at the horses running in pasture had noted one mare break into gait as she ran through the pasture. The very observant lady had mentioned it to the breeder and remembered it to tell me much latter, I wound up with Jerry.
If not for that one lady would anyone have known? The ranch manager was not breeding for gait and hadn’t noticed. She is from strongly gaited lines but not out of a known to gait mare. I remember the ranch manager telling a story about a stud, but not who the stud was it could’ve been her sire that qwould explain why we were talking about it, who had never gaited until he was having a fit being ridden one day and suddenly broke into gait.

One thing that bothers me about all the discussion on this subject is that almost every article says it has been eliminated in the wild because it produces a lack of coordination and is a hindrance to survival. Huh? Seriously? I have always been under the impression that there were many gaited mustangs? I have no personal experience in this area it was just one of those things I thought I knew. In her heyday Jerry was a pretty good cow horse. When boxing or cutting a cow I distinctly remember her gaiting along beside the calf until she buried her butt in the ground and spun around to turn with them. She was and is an extremely quick and agile horse that is not at all deterred by her gaiting.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find any information other this one study. Apparently nobody else breeds non gaited horses hoping for gait so there isn’t much information about it. After all of that I really don’t have anymore answers than I did before. I will keep looking and maybe find enough for another post that only my mom and I will find to be of any interest.


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