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Lordosis (L)


Gene or region: ECA20: 41.5 Mb – 42.6 Mb

Reference allele: C (L1), A (L2), C (L3), T (L4)

Mutant allele: T (L1), G (L2), T (L3), G (L4)

Affected Breeds: American Saddlebred


Research Confidence:                                  Preliminary, no clear candidate gene/marker


What it does: 


Lordosis, also known as swayback, is a curvature or dip in the spine that is often seen in older horses. However, in the American Saddlebred, this condition also affects younger horses. These animals do not appear to experience pain from their condition and are still able to be used under saddle. The genetics are likely complex and poorly understood.


One genome-wide study has been performed on lordosis in the ASB. The four markers tested here (L1-L4) achieved the highest association, with 23/30 swayback horses homozygous for all four associated alleles, and an additional 7 cases were heterozygous for all. In comparison, there were only 44/287 controls homozygous for all four, and 135/287 heterozygous. Thus, horses that genotype L1: T/T L2: G/G L3: T/T L4: G/G are considered most at risk for the lordosis phenotype. The researchers were unable to detect any candidate mutations in the three genes screened in closer detail. Further research is necessary to refine the association.




Cook D et al., “Genetics of swayback in American Saddlebred horses.” (2010) Anim Genet. 41 Suppl 2: 64-71. PMID: 21070278

EZ Guide:  What do my test results mean?     Lordosis Test Key


                                           If      -/-, -/+, -/-, -/-   One    Lordosis allele detected - NO KNOWN AFFECT

If      -/+, -/+, -/-, -/-  Two    Lordosis alleles detected - NO KNOWN AFFECT

If      +/+, +/-, -/-, -/- Three Lordosis alleles detected - NO KNOWN AFFECT

If      +/+, +/+, -/-, -/- Four  Lordosis alleles detected; non-consecutive - NO KNOWN EFFECT

If      +/-, +/-, +/-, +/- Four  Lordosis alleles detected; CONSECUTIVE - CARRIER STATUS          

If      +/+, +/+, +/+, +/+ Eight  Lordosis alleles detected; CONSECUTIVE - LIKELY AFFECTED STATUS



What about the graph of the alleles on my report?

Briefly stated:  A horse must have at least one of each type of allele to be a carrier.  If a horse has two of each mutant allele, then there is an 80% likelihood that he/she displays the Lordosis phenotype (they are swaybacked) and they will pass the carrier alleles to 100% of any offspring.  Breeding to a non-carrier horse (even in one single region/allele) will prevent this type of Lordosis condition.

*This study/allele set has only been conducted in Saddlebred horses, the effects are yet unknown in other breeds.  If you suspect your horse displays severe swaybacked issues that have been apparent since birth, please contact us and participate in the ongoing research project.

Equine Lordosis

No Effect
No Effect
Likely Affected & Carrier
Likely Affected & Carrier
Lordosis Mare.jpg
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