Plasticity effect of rider–horse interaction on genetic evaluations for Show Jumping discipline in sport horses
To obtain a sport horse that excels in the highest levels of competition, breeders must take into account certain genetic and environmental factors that could influence the sport horse's performance, such as the rider–horse interaction (RHI). The main aim of this study was to describe this interaction in a genetic model by modelling it in relation to the horse's age. A total of 31,129 sport results from Spanish Sport Horses were used from a total of 1,101 animals evaluated, and these were grouped in three age levels and had been ridden by 606 different riders. Only riders who had ridden more than one horse (and vice‐versa) were considered for the analyses. Five linear models with different random effects were analysed according to the covariates, the homogeneity/heterogeneity of the RHI and the relevant residual random effects. The model of best fit was then selected for the genetic evaluation of the animal. In general, models including the RHI effect (M2, M4 and M5) fitted better than the other models, and the best fit was obtained for M4 (with heterogeneous residual variance). The genetic variance increased constantly with age, whereas heritability showed a response on three intervals. This study revealed the varied evolution of the RHI with age, showing the different “plastic abilities” of this relationship.
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