A genetic component of equine personality identified

Researchers are close to identifying a gene that may make some horses easier to handle than others.

Researchers in Japan are close to identifying a gene that may make some horses easier to handle than others.

A young girl hugging a horses's head.
A serotonin receptor gene may play a role in a some horses’ laid-back attitudes.

Working at Kyoto University, researchers first assessed the tractability of 167 Thoroughbreds at a race training center using questionnaires filled out by their handlers. Then they did a genetic analysis of each horse, focusing on a serotonin receptor gene known to be associated with anxiety-related traits in several other species. Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that affects mood and social behavior. 

The researchers found a significant association between one of the variations in the serotonin receptor gene and lower tractability in horses, most commonly in fillies. They conclude that this gene may play a role in a horse’s trainability and its effect may be partially dependent on the gender of the horse.

Reference: “Evidence for the effect of serotonin receptor 1A gene (HTR1A) polymorphism on tractability in Thoroughbred horses,” Animal Genetics. (Click here to read abstract) 

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #463

Don’t miss out! With the free weekly EQUUS newsletter, you’ll get the latest horse health information delivered right to your in basket! If you’re not already receiving the EQUUS newsletter, click here to sign up. It’s *free*!




Related Posts

Gray horse head in profile on EQ Extra 89 cover
What we’ve learned about PPID
Do right by your retired horse
Tame your horse’s anxiety
COVER EQ_EXTRA-VOL86 Winter Care_fnl_Page_1
Get ready for winter!


"*" indicates required fields


Additional Offers

Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.