TIH Genetic Research



Traditionally-bred Irish Sport Horse stallion Ardcolum Duke (Gypsy Duke x Clover Hill) at RDS TIH DISPLAY AUGUST 2017. Breeder/Owner: Joe Flynn, Co. Roscommon. Rider: Billy Twomey (IRL) Photo Credit EIS

“Ancestral genetics of the Irish Hunter are likely to be the key genetic influence in the Traditional Irish Horse and may comprise a unique genetic signature”

9th August 2017 Ballsbridge Dublin Horseshow -The Traditional Irish Horse Association (TIHA) along with Horse Sport Ireland Director Alison Corbally and Prof. Emmeline Hill, Chief Science Officer for Plusvital joined together at the world famous Dublin Horseshow to discuss Professor Hill’s ongoing research into the Traditional Irish Horses’ DNA.  Seamus Davis (TIHA) touched upon the 2000 year history of the Traditional Irish Horse against a backdrop showcasing the diversity of the Traditional Irish Horse one of which to the spectators' delight was the famous (ISH) (TIH) 5* Ardcolum Duke .

“Plusvital is delighted to have established a collaboration with the TIHA and Horse Sport Ireland to investigate the unique genetic properties of the Traditional Irish Horse’ said Professor Hill. Modern DNA technologies allow Plusvital to determine the ancestral influences at the DNA level, which may be useful in situations where pedigree is not always available” said Prof Hill. Using DNA from almost 150 horses from 8 breeds to look for genetic similarities and differences the research has found five principal ancestral influences in the Irish Sport Horse. “Our preliminary data indicates that the TIH has considerably less, almost negligible, warmblood ancestry than other Irish Sport Horses and is comprised mostly of ancestral Irish Hunter genetics. The ancestral genetics of the Irish Hunter is likely to be the key genetic influence in the TIH and may comprise a unique genetic signature.”

Commenting on the research project, spokesperson for the TIHA Chris Ryan said “Firstly the TIHA would like to take the opportunity to thank Prof. Hill (Plusvital) for joining us today and Horse Sport Ireland's breeding department for their support and collaboration.  The ongoing scientific research and findings when finalised we hope will lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Traditional  Irish Horse genetics.

Chris Ryan (TIHA) said “Going forward it is all about improving the breed and their performance using data and genetics of merit alongside the shared sentiment for breeding and conserving the Traditional Irish Horse”.  It has been an exciting and informative year for the TIHA.  The TIHA understand the power of working together as an industry and the benefits. Ryan adds “ As an Association we have had some fantastic outcomes this year, data and science will become a crucial part of the foundation on which to build”.

Prof. Hill’s genetic research project is very timely.  The Association has for many years advocated conserving the remaining top quality genetics of the TIH mare population. Coupled with a higher standard of breeding and production, it is the intention of the TIHA. and its policies to increase the market value of traditional Irish stock for the home and export markets working with stakeholders and breeders at all times.


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