@samhorse, thank you for the insightful information! When I talked to the person at Texas A&M, he told me her fourth “hit” was Andalusian. I did look at the phylogenetic tree and tried to research why the results did not make sense. I also looked into what is being bred on reservations and locally. Your analysis makes lots of sense and I’m going to enjoy reading your summary page. I’m curious and really interested about how you came to do this research.
FYI,I have seen some gorgeous mustangs from the Warm Springs Reservation and other places and it would be really fantastic if my mare did have Barb blood. To give you an idea of her phenotype, here is a photo.
Thank you, Gamma. She has a twin brother who was on the feed lot with her. He has the same markings, but is more refined. I believe being a twin is why she ended up being small (14.1). A trainer with a good eye picked them up before they were shipped off to the slaughter house. She will likely be the best horse I’ve owned. I’ve owned many, most way more expensive than she. Until the fires hit, we were schooling 2nd level. A few BNT’s have been super impressed with her attitude and movement. She is a big puppy dog.
These tests are not based on good science. Testing for a “breed” requires alleles that are at 100 frequency within a breed, and 0% in others. These markers just do not exist in horses, period. It’s fine for fun, but the fact that they take money in exchange for “results” is pretty unethical, IMO (as a geneticist, all be it a microbial geneticist).
It’s not meant to be a breed test though. It a test for ancestral DNA associated with some breeds that is compared by a computer algorithm. That is what is advertised, but many people misinterpret their results.
As a biochemist, I dont think the above is actually quite accurate. The test is just suggestive for an individual horse, most certainly, and should be evaluated thoughtfully based upon the horses location, phenotype and just what makes sense, as a fun way to tell the horses story.
However with respect to breeds, there are a plethora of breed to breed comparative peer-reviewed studies using these markers to determine how breeds are related. In these studies they evaluate 50-100s of horses from each breed, so develop statistical data on the frequency of the alleles within various breeds. Its not just is a marker present or absent, but rather which markers whos up in which breeds at which frequencies. They are a pretty interesting and very scientifically valid tool for use in population genetic studies of whole breeds.
I also think the revenue is used to do research on horse genetics. Dr Cothren has done a huge amount of analysis on breeds all over the world and on our mustangs here in the US, for which Im very grateful. Id be hesitant though if it was a for-profit company for sure.
Even looking at genome wide SNPs, which is a far, far more accurate way determine relationships, the data are unimpressive. Check out Peterson et al., 2013, in PLoS ONE. Let’s just say that there’s a reason it’s in PLoS ONE and not a quality journal. And sadly, that’s the best journal that this sort of research is published in. Additionally, the majority of this literature is describing diversity within a breed, not establishing markers for breed identification.
Your second to last sentence the the second paragraph is exactly the problem. They are not picking good markers, likely because they don’t exist. It’s basically MLST. A=allele 1 B=allele 3 C=allele 2 would equal a QH. A=allele 4 B=allele 3 C=allele 5 would equal a Morgan. There is no validation. And I totally get that. I do a lot of bioinformatics and genome sequencing; it’s difficult and time consuming. And expensive. I’m totally fine with not having quality research that can ID horse breeds, because I’d just as soon that money be spent on IDing causes for equine genetic diseases.
And it totally makes sense that there are no good markers strongly associated with breeds. Horse breeds aren’t monophyletic groups. And clearly the PCA from the 2013 paper shows that the older, purer breeds are far more distinct than most breeds. It’s laughable to me that they include breeds like QHs and WBs. It’s hard to ID an Oldenburg when one parent is a Hanoverian and the other is a Holsteiner. I like to think that Lauries Crusador XX and Prince Thatch XX are somewhere laughing at the idea of Hanoverians being a genetically distinct breed.
Thanks for the link. My little Nevada Mustang is very Barb looking so it would be fun to see how much Spanish type influence she has (Lava Beds HMA) and if there are any surprises. Any Mustangs near Rock Springs Wyoming might have a bit of TB, according to a story from a very old cowboy I knew when I was a kid…
I read it, carefully. And followed all the trace backs, to the breed lines, and still am scratching my head over my pony’s results. This 13.1 chunky pony, a trotter all day long, I was guessing QH, Welsh, maybe Fjord, some other shorter drafty type like Haflinger… The Texas A&M test said Mountain Pleasure Horse, Turkoman of course, and Rocky Mountain Horse
i have two mustangs from Warm Springs that i think are closely related… i think i’ll DNA them. (actually have 3 from there, but the third is distinctively different)
I also have two other mustangs from Beatys Butte that i think are father and son. (have one more Beatys Butte, but he is quite different looking from the other two) I think i’ll DNA them too.
This is a little “Quarter Horse” I picked up this summer. He stands about 14.1 and is not even a big 14.1. My husband swears he is really an Arabian, especially when he flags his tail and floats off at a trot.
His former owner had him DNA tested at A&M, which came back with the following results- 1) Quarter Horse, 2) Friesian, 3) Trakehner.
I like your summary page, I’ve been looking at the phylogenetic tree and trying to make some sense of what my horses might be. I bought a pregnant mare off a feedlot last year, was told she was probably a TB, probably bred to an Andalusian. I had her and her colt tested this year. The mare’s test came back marked Argentine Criollo, Garrano, and Missouri Fox Trotter. Her colt came back marked Missouri Fox Trotter, Lipizzaner, and Hackney. I’m not seeing a connection to TB with any of these breeds (although it’s very possible to be wrong since it’s still a tad confusing, lol) but I am now wondering if these two perhaps have a mustang heritage somewhere down the line? They both were marked with MFT, and the Criollo/Garrano/Lipizzaner is probable for a Spanish bloodline of some sort…could it be Andalusian? I would appreciate your thoughts, you seem to be able to make sense of this a little better.
thanks for the interesting post Samhorse I just sent my horse’s off to Texas A&M so will be interesting to see his results. A barnmate sent her mare’s in - paint, holsteiner and something else which I can’t recall but pretty much summed up what she thought her horse was.
My horse is a draft cross probably Clyde and who knows what - so will be interesting to see what the findings are.
So many of you disagree with the Texas A&M results.
Do you know what the genetic panel is that they use to assign breeds? Is it SNPs or genetic code? Are people questioning the actual genetic code of their horses because they “don’t think their horses looks/like moves like that?” Pretty much, only the horse whose 5 generations of breeding are proven to be known can question the genetics. Genetics don’t lie. You can question genetic sequences of SNPs based on homology, and you can toal to the University researchers about this. Texas A&M are frontrunners on genetics with livestock.