Survey of Risk Factors and Genetic Characterization of Ewe Neck in a World Population of Pura Raza Español Horses

Animals (Basel). 2020 Oct 1;10(10):1789. doi: 10.3390/ani10101789.


Ewe Neck is a relatively common morphological defect in Pura Raza Español (PRE) horses and other Baroque type horse breeds, which adversely affects the breeding industry; (1) objectives: to establish the within-breed prevalence, possible associated factors, and heritability of Ewe Neck in PRE horses; (2) methods: the database included evaluations of 35,267 PRE horses. The Ewe Neck defect, 16 morphological traits, and 4 body indices were recorded. A Bayesian genetic animal model included the following systematic effects: sex, age, coat color, geographical area of the stud, and birth stud size were used; (3) results: in this PRE population, a total of 27.12% was affected. All the risk factors studied were significantly associated with the Ewe Neck score. The heritability coefficient for Ewe Neck score ranged from 0.23 to 0.34. Morphological traits (height at chest, length of back, head-neck junction, and bottom neck-body junction) and the indices (head and thoracic index) were those most closely related with the appearance of Ewe Neck; (4) conclusions: Ewe Neck is a relatively frequent defect in PRE horses, associated with risk factors and other morphological traits, with a moderate level of heritability. Breeding to select against this condition may therefore be beneficial in this breed.

Keywords: Spanish purebred horses; heritability; morphological defect; upside-down neck.