Can DNA Help Identify a Horse With Lost Registration Papers?

Q. I have a horse who is said to be registered, but unfortunately during Hurricane Harvey those papers were lost due to flooding in our area. The previous owners don’t remember the registered name given, nor the parents, but I was informed that I could further my knowledge to her bloodline by a DNA test. Is this true? And if so, could you explain how this works and what I would need to do? —Lauren Castilaw, via email

A. I am sorry for your difficulties due to the hurricane. Many horse registries require DNA testing prior to registration to verify parentage before issuing papers. If this is the case for your horse’s registry, then contact the registry and explain your situation. Each registry has a contract laboratory that does all their DNA testing and maintains a database of the DNA profiles of horses submitted to the lab. If the registry isn’t willing or able to reissue the papers based on ownership information, then they will likely require you to submit a hair sample from your horse to the laboratory to generate a DNA profile again. The lab can then search that registry’s database for a matching DNA profile and thereby identify your horse. If your horse was not DNA-profiled prior to registration, then unfortunately there is little that can be done to verify the identity of your horse with complete certainty.

Kathryn T. Graves, PhD,
Associate Clinical Professor, Genetic Testing at Gluck Equine Research Center
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

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