Did You Know?

Do you know where the first horses appeared?

The first horse – Eohippus, the Dawn Horse was about the size of a large tomcat. It appeared in North America 40 + millions years ago. It had toes, no hoofs yet and lived in a tropical forest setting.

Posted Feb 16, 2017    -    Ref. "The History & Romance of the HORSE" by Arthur Vernon


DSLD is not a Disease

Posted Apr 7, 2014

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science
Volume 29, Issue 10 , Pages 748-752, October 2009

Systemic Proteoglycan Deposition Is Not a Characteristic of Equine Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD)

Daniel Schenkman, DVM, PhD,
Anibal Armien, DVM, PhD,
Roy Pool Jr., DVM, PhD,
James M. Williams, PhD,
Ronald D. Schultz, PhD,
Jorge O. Galante, MD


Recently Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD) has been proposed to be a disease characterized by systemic deposition of proteoglycan (PG) in connective tissues. To investigate this hypothesis, 6 clinically affected Peruvian Paso horses were compared to 2 unaffected quarterhorses and one unaffected standardbred. Histological sections of limb ligaments and tendons, nuchal ligaments, aortas, hearts, eyes, visceral organs and brains from both groups were stained with H&E as well as special stains for PG. Safranin-O stained sections were found to be optimal for elucidating the presence of PG. Although lesions characteristic of DSLD were present in suspensory ligaments of each clinically affected horse, including foci of chondroid metaplasia with abundant PG, a similar but less pronounced pattern of PG deposition was present in control horses. In contrast to findings of the previous study, PG deposition was not unique to DSLD horses, and PG deposition in aortas and nuchal ligaments of some control horses exceeded levels of PG present in similar tissue of DSLD horses. Furthermore, the “vascular lesion” described in the media of arteries as cellular separation and intercellular amorphous matrix deposition was within the spectrum of changes recognized in both affected and unaffected horses. We found no evidence that DSLD is a systemic PG deposition disease.


The Peruvian Horse tests positive for great genetics

Posted Jun 10, 2013

For several years now the complete horse genome data has been available to equine genetic researchers all over the world. They have been able to discover some surprising facts about domestic horses and more specify about the genetic make-up of Peruvian Horses. The fact that the Peruvian horse has a larger more diverse gene pool than many other breeds, like the American Quarter Horse, or the Thoroughbred, or Arabians or even Tennessee Walkers may come as a surprise to many, but the Peruvian Horse has one of the largest, most diverse gene pools of any domestic horse in the world.

 A large breed population does not guarantee a large gene pool. The Thoroughbred is a large population that is widely distributed around the world, however, historic records suggest that one sire is responsible for 95% of the paternal lineages in the breed and as few as 30 females make up 94% of maternal lineages. In addition the outside gene flow of the Thoroughbred has been closed since 1791. The fact that the Conquistadors primarily rode stallions when conquering Peru may help to explain the large number of sires and the diversity of the present day gene pool of the Peruvian Horse. Also unlike the Thoroughbred, new genetic diversity has been added as recently as the 1960's.

 With the entire genome complete, every single gene and gene variants or modifiers called alleles, can be identified and be compared with other breeds. Researchers have found the gene for just about everything, including the gene for gait. When comparing the Peruvian Horse with other gaited breeds they have discovered that the Peruvian Horse tests stronger over a longer genetic range. This means with its ancestral connection to the ambling horse of the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish Jennet, the Peruvian Horse is predisposed to gait like no other horse.

 Why is any of this important? As a general rule, the bigger the gene pool is, the better things are for a breed. Diversity tends to encourage a strong breed hardiness. When a population is not very diverse, mutated alleles can become amplified and dominant, and this can lead to some very dangerous problems for a small gene pool population.

 Gene pools should be of interest to Peruvian horse breeders for a number of reasons. A diverse set of genes is desired to create a healthy population of breeding animals. This diversity will also help defend it against genetic diseases and this may be the reason why no major genetic disease has ever been discovered in any concentration of Peruvian Horses. This knowledge is especially important for any breeder who works with purebred horses, as purebreds tend to develop issues associated with inbreeding due to restrictions on the animals allowed to breed. These issues become less of a factor when the gene pool is as large and diverse as the gene pool of the Peruvian Horse. The Peruvian Horse is not only one of the best-gaited horses in the world; it is also one of the strongest horses genetically.

Rich Ovenburg


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