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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Genetic analysis of the longevity of French sport horses in jumping competition1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 89 No. 10, p. 2988-2994
    Received: Feb 01, 2011
    Accepted: May 02, 2011
    Published: December 4, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s): anne.ricard@toulouse.inra.fr

  1. A. Ricard 2 and
  2. C. Blouin
  1. INRA, UMR 1313, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France



The longevity of sport horses is an economic and ethical issue. The aim of this study was to analyze the duration of the competitive life of jumping horses in France to assess the potential for genetic evaluation and to propose rules of management for sport horses. Data included lifetimes spent in jumping competitions for the 209,296 horses born from 1968 onward with performances between 1972 and 2008; the data set contained 22% right-censored records. Longevity was measured in years. Discrete survival analysis included fixed effects of region of birth, month of birth, year of recording, age at first competition, interaction between sex and level of jumping performance as measured by the logarithm of earnings adjusted for sex, age, year, and random sire and maternal grand-sire effects. There were 16,668 sires and maternal grand-sires. All fixed effects were highly significant (P < 0.001). Management of the sports career had an important effect on longevity: against common belief, the younger the horse started competing, the longer it stayed in competition. For horses that started competing at an age of 6 yr, the risk of culling was 1.33-fold that of horses having started at 4 yr of age. The less success in competition, the greater was the chance for leaving competition, especially for horses without earnings. For a gelding without earnings, the risk of culling was 1.40-fold that of an average-performance gelding and 2.57-fold that of a top-rated gelding (performance at least 2 SD above the mean). Mares always had greater relative risk than geldings or stallions because they may be culled from competition to be used for breeding. The risk of culling for females was 1.45-fold that of a gelding with the same performance. The heritability of the length of competitive life was 0.10. Breeding values were predicted for sires, and 3,303 sires showed an accuracy greater than 0.60. Among these sires, 262 were used for breeding in 2008.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of Animal Science