Genetic Testing: The Secret World Of Genes

Genetic testing in horses helps us learn about their physical characteristics, diseases, and much more.
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Anyone who reads this magazine likely agrees that horses are amazing creatures. Valued for their speed, their beauty, and their grace, not to mention their generosity of spirit toward humans, horses are a continuing marvel even to those of us who work with them every day. And now, as researchers delve into the secrets of the DNA strands that make horses what they are, we’re discovering anew just how miraculous they are–on a molecular level.

Horses in snow
ANNE M. EBERHARDT

We now have at our disposal a great deal of information about the genetics of coat color.

Every species of living thing on the planet has a genetic code, which is a characteristic number and array of chromosomes, hidden in every cell, that supply the directions for the precise workings of the organism’s metabolic function, development, and reproduction. On these chromosomes are genes, the term used to describe sections of the DNA spiral that are responsible for creating individual traits, some obvious to the eye, others invisible but no less crucial. Genes can vary in size from just a couple of molecules in the DNA strand, to large and complex sections with thousands upon thousands of subunits

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Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She’s written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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