Analysis of competition performance in dressage and show jumping of Dutch Warmblood horses

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Abstract

Most Warmblood horse studbooks aim to improve the performance in dressage and show jumping. The Dutch Royal Warmblood Studbook (KWPN) includes the highest score achieved in competition by a horse to evaluate its genetic ability of performance. However, the records collected during competition are associated with some aspects that might affect the quality of the genetic evaluation based on these records. These aspects include the influence of rider, censoring and preselection of the data. The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of rider effect, censoring and preselection on the genetic analysis of competition data of dressage and show jumping of KWPN. Different models including rider effect were evaluated. To assess the impact of censoring, genetic parameters were estimated in data sets that differed in the degree of censoring. The effect of preselection on variance components was analysed by defining a binary trait (sport-status) depending on whether the horse has a competition record or not. This trait was included in a bivariate model with the competition trait and used all horses registered by KWPN since 1984. Results showed that performance in competition for dressage and show jumping is a heritable trait (h2 ˜ 0.11–0.13) and that it is important to account for the effect of rider in the genetic analysis. Censoring had a small effect on the genetic parameter for highest performance achieved by the horse. A moderate heritability obtained for sport-status indicates that preselection has a genetic basis, but the effect on genetic parameters was relatively small.

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