Effect of specialization on genetic parameters of studbook–entry inspection in Dutch Warmblood horses

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Recent studies on data from the Dutch Warmblood Studbook (KWPN) have shown that the ongoing specialization of horses for either dressage (DH) or show jumping (JH) has led to a decreasing genetic relationship between the two subpopulations. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the specialization process on the genetic parameters of traits measured in the studbook–entry inspection of KWPN during the last fifteen years. Data from 18 125 DH and 23 800 JH recorded from 1998 until 2013 were used to analyse 13 traits scored in both DH and JH. Analyses were performed in a Bayesian framework. Firstly, variance components were estimated based on the whole data set. Secondly, genetic correlations between traits measured in DH or JH were estimated using bivariate analyses. Thirdly, three time periods were defined and genetic correlations between subpopulations were estimated within each period. Heritability was moderate (0.17–0.39) for both DH and JH. Genetic correlations between traits measured in DH or JH were not different from one considering the posterior standard deviation of the estimation; however, in most of the traits, a clear trend in reduction of the genetic correlation for traits expressed in DH and JH and an increase in their posterior standard deviation for recent years was observed. These results suggest that specialization could lead to differences in traits measured in DH and JH in the recent years.

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