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One Hundred Years of Coat Colour Influences on Genetic Diversity in the Process of Development of a Composite Horse Breed.


Genetic diversity and demographic parameters were computed to evaluate the historic effects of coat colour segregation in the process of configuration of the Hispano-Arabian horse (Há). Pedigree records from 207,100 individuals born between 1884 and 2019 were used. Although coat colour is not a determinant for the admission of Hispano-Arabian individuals as apt for breeding, it may provide a representative visual insight into the gene contribution of Spanish Purebred horses (PRE), given many of the dilution genes described in Há are not present in the Arabian Purebred breed (PRá). The lack of consideration of coat colour inheritance patterns by the entities in charge of individual registration and the dodging behaviour of breeders towards the historic banning policies, may have acted as a buffer for diversity loss (lower than 8%). Inbreeding levels ranged from 1.81% in smokey cream horses to 8.80 for white horses. Contextually, crossbred breeding may increase the likelihood for double dilute combinations to occur as denoted by the increased number of Há horses displaying Pearl coats (53 Há against 3 PRE and 0 PRá). Bans against certain coat colours and patterns may have prevented an appropriate registration of genealogical information from the 4th generation onwards for decades. This may have brought about the elongation of generation intervals. Breeder tastes may have returned to the formerly officially-recognised coat colours (Grey and Bay) and Chestnut/Sorrel. However, coat colour conditioning effects must be evaluated timely for relatively short specific periods, as these may describe cyclic patterns already described in owners' and breeders' tastes over the centuries.

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