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Equine Color Genetics

Author: kyle





Today, I will be talking about Equine Color Genetics to provide a better understanding of what is involved in producing offspring.

I have been a horse trainer for about 18 years and a life long rider. I have worked with many breeders and ranches and have seen , sold and ridden horses of all colors. I learned Equine Color Genetics along the way from very knowledgeable professionals.

Many people do not understand what is involved in breeding an animal to produce specific colors and patterns .

However, there is indeed an exact science to it and its called Equine Color Genetics .

This is an informative article. I am not a scientist, however I do understand and will give you the basics of Equine Color Genetics in order to understand why and how breeders can produce and predict the exact color and traits of their animals.



What exactly is Equine Color Genetics ?







In order to understand Equine Color Genetics, first you need to better understand the Gene.

Genes for beginners : Genes are made up of two "alleles". Each "alleles" is inherited from each parent (1 from either parent). Depending on the genetics of the parent will determine what their off-springs' gene will be.

Homozygous are those that have inherited two dominant "alleles".

Heterozygous are those that have inherited 1 dominant and 1 recessive "alleles".

Breeders of all kinds have a certain rule of thumb when it comes to Equine Color Genetics. If you check out the picture above called a "punnet square" , you will see the formula of that rule of thumb.

In short, Homozygous and Heterozygous animals are bred in certain variation to produce certain colors and traits.



Why do we use Equine Color Genetics?







Equine Color Genetics is an exact science and is basically a mathematical equation. Most breeders after studying and learning their trade, use a chart like the one above to effectively produce the off-spring they desire for their bloodline.

Most breeders prefer to "predict" the outcome of their breeding. This allows them to market their off-spring accordingly to their client base and make important decisions about "culling" and breeding the rest of their stock.

Each individual horse has a specific gene. No matter the color, it is the gene that determines the outcome of color capabilities when breeding that horse. This is why Equine Color Genetics is so important.



Understanding Equine Color Genetics



It would be impossible to rattle off combinations of colors without knowing exactly what genes the the animal has.



With that said , there is a formula for color once you do know their genetics. AKA ( Equine Color Genetics )



There are two different types of equine alleles. Extension (E and e) and Agouti (A and a).



Though it seems intimidating to understand the weird terminology of Equine Color Genetics , its quite simple.



Extension is the basis of all equine color and the most important gene of all. The dominant "allels" of extension 'E' causes the production of "black base color".



Agouti is typically referred to as the "bay gene". This genes restricts color from the mane and tale leaving them in their original state (black).



It is also quite complex to understand as it is it is a gene that has a 'multiple allelic series' . Meaning basically, there are different alleles that can structure the gene .



Instead of just A (dominant) and a (recessive). There is: 'A+' (dominant over all the others), bay 'A' (dominant over the following two), brown 'At' (dominant over the next) and "recessive" 'a' (no impact on the horse's color).



It is with the understanding of the "trickle down" process of the agouti gene that breeders are able to arrange breedings to impact what variations and colors offspring receive through use of Equine Color Genetics.



What color variations are involved in Equine Color Genetics?



This can be a very extensive list . It would be incomprehensible. Hopefully you now have some sort of understanding of the complexities of Equine Color Genetics.


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Thanks for your interest !

Peace and Love,

Kyle Petty

Equine Color Genetics

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