Equine Ancestry & Composition Analysis
Equine ancestry and composition analysis is an in-depth comparison of your horse's genetic make-up and how it is like, or unlike, other horses within various "breeds", disciplines, and populations around the world. We begin this journey using a "reference" population; one in which the genetics and characteristics have been previously statistically analyzed and carefully compared to one another for genetic similarity and difference.
In submitting your horse's hair sample you provide the DNA sample by which we can compare your horse's genes (the "unknown" horse) to these reference horses ("known" or defined horses) and provide information on what your horse has in common with each reference horse and their group as a whole.
Case Study 1 - The Mystery Horse: Let's say you purchased an unknown horse for whom the prior owner claimed was 1/2 Icelandic. Since Icelandic horses are thought to be some of the most preserved genetic examples of horses in the world (because they have been in isolation for generations) we can compare the genes of your mystery horse to the genes of our known group of Icelandic horses. We can then plot on a genetic graph (called a PCA comparison) or a composition pie chart and see how many genes your horse may share with the "average" Icelandic horse and determine the likelihood that your horse is indeed 1/2 or "50%" Icelandic.
Case Study 2 - The Mystery Athlete: OK, you're off to Europe to purchase your dream Warmblood to enhance your Eventing career. After sorting through your favorite bloodlines you've narrowed it down to two farms with spectacular sires and dams known for throwing lovely, talented Eventing horses. You've chosen 5 foals from the lineup and are sweating over your decision. If you've already cleared a bill of health for each (no genetic diseases like PSSM1, clean x-rays, fitting disposition, etc.) your decision should be easier. The problem? These same sire and dam combinations are also known to produce Show Jumpers and the occasional Dressage star, so how do you tip the hand further in your favor? Composition. By understanding what a classic, successful Eventing horse looks like, genetically, you now have a solid reference point. In comparing the DNA profile of your Warmblood Mystery Athlete to the known genetic profiles of the top Eventing and Dressage horses, you can more easily see which horse may better suit your needs. This method is historically referred to as "% Blood" and has been, thus far, calculated based on pedigree...a reasonable method, but far less accurate than genetic calculations based on proven heritability.
Below is an example of two composition analysis from the average Hanoverian horse and the average Morgan horse: