A novel non-invasive selection criterion for the preservation of primitive Dutch Konik horses

Sharon May-Davis, Wendy Y. Brown, Kathleen Shorter, Zefanja Vermeulen, Raquel Butler, Marianne Koekkoek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


The Dutch Konik is valued from a genetic conservation perspective and also for its role in preservation of natural landscapes. The primary management objective for the captive breeding of this primitive horse is to maintain its genetic purity, whilst also maintaining the nature reserves on which they graze. Breeding selection has traditionally been based on phenotypic characteristics consistent with the breed description, and the selection of animals for removal from the breeding program is problematic at times due to high uniformity within the breed, particularly in height at the wither, colour (mouse to grey dun) and presence of primitive markings. With the objective of identifying an additional non-invasive selection criterion with potential uniqueness to the Dutch Konik, this study investigates the anatomic parameters of the distal equine limb, with a specific focus on the relative lengths of the individual splint bones. Post-mortem dissections performed on distal limbs of Dutch Konik (n = 47) and modern domesticated horses (n = 120) revealed significant differences in relation to the length and symmetry of the 2nd and 4th Metacarpals and Metatarsals. Distal limb characteristics with apparent uniqueness to the Dutch Konik are described which could be an important tool in the selection and preservation of the breed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2018


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