Breeding of Swedish Warmblood horses towards specialization in show jumping and dressage

Abstract: A clear specialization towards show jumping or dressage performance is evident in most European Warmblood studbooks. As a consequence, some breeding organizations have introduced specialized breeding programs. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the specialization towards show jumping and dressage in the Swedish Warmblood (SWB) population, as well as the relationships between linearly scored traits and performance in these disciplines. The proportion of allround horses had decreased considerably from 1980 in favor of show jumping and dressage horses. A decrease was also seen in the average relationship between show jumping and dressage horses over time, while it increased within the subpopulations during the past decade. A future scenario with discipline-specific young horse tests would result in decreased heritability and genetic variance for traits that are not assessed for all horses, but would have only minor impact on the ranking of sires within discipline based on breeding values. Phenotypic relationships between linearly scored traits and competition results showed that few traits except jumping traits were important for performance in show jumping, whereas several conformation and gait traits seemed to be of high importance for performance in dressage. For show jumping performance, most relationships had a linear association, whereas relationships with intermediate optimal scores were common for performance in dressage. The findings confirm the specialization of the SWB population, and that linear assessment of young horses is a valuable tool in sport horse breeding.

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