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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • gait;
  • pace;
  • conformation;
  • breed;
  • genetics

Summary

Dressage is one of the Olympic equestrian sports practiced in several countries using different horse breeds. Specific characteristics of the walk, trot and canter are required for dressage. It has been assumed that some of these traits could be selected for genetically and contribute to dressage performance. The purpose of this study was to compare the walk, trot and conformation characteristics in young horses of different breeds used for dressage. A total of 142 horses age 3 years were classified into 3 groups of breeds (German, French and Spanish saddle horses) and tested using the same procedure. The skeletal conformation measurements were made by image analysis. Gait variables of the walk and trot were measured by the accelerometric gait analysis system Equimetrix. Discriminant analysis could explain the variability between the groups by taking into account the walk (P<0.0003), trot (P<0.0001) and conformation variables (P<0.0001). Many gait and conformation variables were significantly different between the breeds. In summary, the German horses had gait characteristics more adapted for dressage competition, and the results of this group could be used as a reference for early evaluation in dressage. Purebred Spanish horses could be considered as a reference for collected gaits used for farm work and old academic dressage. The gait and conformation tests could be applied in a breeding or crossing plan to detect more accurately young horses with good dressage ability.