The Magical Allure of Horse Breeds
Horse breeds with amazing abilities to race and to compete, are no longer the stuff of science fiction! The latest developments in the Life Sciences make it possible to produce new horse breeds with desirable traits of physical strength and great mental courage. A mule has already been cloned, which means that science is ready to produce unlimited copies of the best race horses. Such technology is obviously limited by ethical concerns. The gene responsible for a particular kind of equine viral fever has been identified, so horse breeders now also have the option of genetic manipulation. Once again, there are moral issues to resolve in allowing genetically modified horse breeds to take part in sport.
A less controversial but highly effective method of quickly developing a horse breed with extraordinary racing abilities is to use cryogenic storage of horse semen. This is merely a more convenient way of hybridization of blood lines across continents. We can still transport a stallion across oceans for natural mating with a selected mare, but breeders simply have more options by being able to transport semen over long distances, and to use it after virtually indefinite periods of time. This path can be perilous if horse pedigrees are not known for at least three generations, or else undesirable recessive genes may manifest in foals. Genetic tests, as available for human embryos, can be developed to look for dangerous genes immediately after a mare conceives. This is however, an expensive approach, as development and supply of reagents kits for small volumes would force laboratories to charge exorbitant amounts for test kits and for diagnostic services.
Many horse breeders do not want to be bothered with complications of technology, and prefer to indulge in the art and science of horse breeding in the traditional way. The World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses is a fine example of the kind of networking that is possible to find a suitable mate for a champion race horse. Such conventional methods make it possible to produce offspring at least as good as their parents in terms of targeted characteristics of physique and mental tendencies.
Care of an expectant mare and of a growing foal matter as much as hybrid breeding and sophisticated genetics, when it comes to raising future race horses to classical standards. Hygiene, nutrition, personality development and build up of strength and endurance on both physical and mental parameters, matter at least as much as genes and pedigree.
Nothing can match the emotions and passion that horse breeding arouses. The excitement of horse racing brings so much of the spotlight on jockeys, trainers, owners and the race horses, that the essential role of breeders is often forgotten. Horse breeds are legion, and these wonderful animals have been used over the ages for a variety of tasks. Horse racing is a very special application of the art and science of horse breeding, and it takes the best part of a lifetime to learn the nuances of horse breeds.