Does the U.K. Performance Horse Industry Have a Color Bias?
Horses’ coat colors and patterns have evolved over millennia. Since their domestication, horse color trends and fashions have come and gone; breeders have carefully paired mares and stallions to produce a particular colored foal; and today there’s even an entire branch of genetics devoted to coat color.
So what is the current fashion, and does it factor into how judges evaluate a horse’s performance? Anna Fisker Hansen, BSc(Hons) Equine Science, who is completing her research masters in equitation science at Plymouth University/Duchy College, in the United Kingdom (U.K.), recently conducted a study to address this in one subset of the U.K.’s horse population: young horses being evaluated as future performance horses. She presented her findings at the 11th International Society for Equitation Science Conference, held Aug. 6-9 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Based on feedback from participants in the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) young horse evaluations—which look at more than 400 horses under the age of 3 each year—Fisker Hansen said she hypothesized a negative bias toward piebald or skewbald (both terms to describe block-colored horses, what many Americans would describe as pinto) horses.
“The premium scores awarded at the Futurity can influence the worth of a horse, thus any bias in scoring could have economic implications,” Fisker Hansen explained. “This is noteworthy, as unwanted horses have majorly increased in Britain, affecting equine welfare
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