The use of new technologies in horse selection

Klemen Potočnik


Received: 2018-09-12 | Accepted: 2018-11-27 | Available online: 2018-12-31

Most successful selection strategies are not in use in horse selection. This study describes the use of current strategies of selection in horse breeding and tries to answers why well known, scientifically proven selection strategies are still not implemented. In the era of genomic selection (GS) in animal breeding, decision making in horse selection, even classical breeding values (BV), are not fully taken advantage of. Breeding organizations (BO) which implement BVs as selection criteria in their breeding programs show great success in genetic gain. However, a horse's achievements and the popularity of its relatives still plays an important role in selection level. Genomic based selection tools in horse breeding have limitations in quantitative traits since it is difficult to establish reference population. Mendelian traits have been studied for several years, especially those related to horse health and functional longevity (long sport or race careers), yet there are still only a small number of validated mendelian traits offered for horses. The important benefit of GS is the prevention of related mating based on genomic data, in addition to pedigree data. The specialty in horse breeding is the use of cloning. From the point of view of genetic variability, cloning is useful in enabling geldings or non-genetically infertile animals to carry genes to next generations. In sport and race BOs, breeding stallions from foreign BOs are frequently used. In such cases a need for comparable BVs exists. These factors were the motivation behind the establishment of Interstallion 20 years ago. Due to difficulties in BO collaboration, Interstallion has not been as successful as planned. On the whole, it is expected that the sector of horse selection will need to change considerably in the future.


Keywords: breeding value, cloning selection, genomic selection, inbreeding, strategies


Árnason, T. (1984) Genetic studies on conformation and performance of Icelandic toelter horses: IV Best linear unbiased prediction of ten correlated traits by use of an animal model. Acta Agric. Scand. 34, 450–462.

Broere Jazz (2018) Jazz – one in a million. [Online] Alblasserdam. Available at: [Accessed 12 August 2018].

FMITCHELL07 (2009) Inbreeding to broodmares: an in-depth statistical analysis of the Rasmussen Factor, Part 1 [Online] [Accessed 12 August 2018].

Henderson, C. R. (1953) Estimation of variance and covariance components. Biometrics, 9, 226–252.

Jorjani, H., Jakobsen, J., Hjerpe, E., Palucci, V., Dürr, J. (2012) Status of genomic evaluation in the Brown Swiss populations. Interbull Bull., 46, pp. 46–54.

Koenen, E. (2005) Publication of breeding values: Interstallion guidelines. Workshop "Use of genetic evaluations in sport horse breeding" Warendorf, Germany. [Online] In: Leuven: KU Leuven. Available at: [Accessed 12 August 2018].

Koenen, E., Aldridge, L.I., Philipsson, J. (2004) An overview of breeding objectives for warmblood sport horses. Livestock Production Science, 88(1-2), pp. 77-84.

Liljenstolpe, C. (2009) Horses in Europe. [Online] Maarslet: WBFSH. Available at: [Accessed 16 August 2018].

Mark, T. (2013) Genomic selection for performance and health [Accessed 12 August 2018].

OMIA (2018) Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA). [Online] Maarslet: WBFSH. Available at: [Accessed 6 September 2018].

Philipsson, J. (2009) Mace for horse evaluations. Interstallion: Workshop Le Pin au Haras, 26th March 2009. [Online. Available at: ] [Accessed 12 August 2018].

Reed, T. (2018) Johan Knaap on genomic selection – an interview. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 September 2018].

Reis, A.P., Palmer, E., Nakhla, M. (2012) Biotechnologies of reproduction in the horse: what has changed? In: Book of Abstracts of the 63rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science Wageningen. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Shelbourne Farm. (2018) Cruising Clones. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 September 2018].

Stock, K., Quinn Brady, K., Christiansen, K., Viklund, Å., Cervantes, I., Ricard, A., Ducro, B., Janssens, S. (2015). Breeding objectives and practices of sport horse studbooks : Results of a worldwide inventory. In: Book of Abstracts of the 66th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science Wageningen.Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Stock, K., Viklund, Å., Cervantes, I., Ricard, A., Christiansen, K., Vangen, O., Janssens, S. (2018). The role of Interstallion in supporting international sport horse breeding by improved transparency. In: Book of Abstracts of the 69th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science Wageningen. Wageningen:  Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Thorén Hellsten, E. (2008) International Sport Horse Data for Genetic Evaluation. Doctoral Thesis. Uppsala: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Waikato (2018) Waikato Stud offers a truly world-class stallion line up. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 September 2018].

WBFSH (2018) World breeding federation for sport horses: Breeder and Studbook rankings. [Online]. Available at:  [Accessed 12 September 2018].

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Acta Fytotechnica et Zootechnica

© Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Faculty of Agrobiology and Food Resources