Animal Science

Research Article

Correlations between sport performance and different radiographic findings in the limbs of Hanoverian Warmblood horses

K. F. Stocka1 c1 and O. Distla1

a1 Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (Foundation), Bünteweg 17p, D-30559, Hannover, Germany


The purpose of this work was to quantify the additive genetic correlations between prevalent radiographic findings in the limbs of Warmblood riding horses and performance parameters. Data on 3725 Hanoverian Warmblood horses selected for sale at auctions in the period 1991 to 1998 were used. The numbers of annual entries (TE) and placings (TP) in tournament competitions in the period 1991 to 2002 served as measures of performance in riding sports. Multivariate genetic analyses were performed in linear animal models using restricted maximum likelihood (REML). The four most prevalent radiographic findings, i.e. osseous fragments in fetlock (OFF) and hock joints (OFH), deforming arthropathy in hock joints (DAH) and pathologic changes in navicular bones (PCN) were analysed jointly with the performance parameters, i.e. TE and TP. Additive genetic correlations between the radiographic findings and the performance in sports were in many cases close to zero. There were some indications for significantly negative, but few indications for significantly positive additive genetic correlations between radiological conditions in the equine limbs and the performance of Warmblood riding horses in dressage, show-jumping and basic build-up competitions. Breeding measures that allow for orthopaedic health traits could therefore contribute to maximize the breeding progress in terms of sport performance.

(Received February 21 2005)

(Accepted August 30 2005)

Key words

  • genetic correlation;
  • horses;
  • performance;
  • radiography;
  • selection responses