DNA testing … the Internet … that’s a lot of high-tech stuff for a 450-year-old breed. Why do the DNA testing? How does it work?
DNA testing is the most crucial part of all of our registrations — both purebred and crossbred. Since 1988 it has been a requirement for all registered horses to have a parentage verification performed via genetic means. In the early years, that meant blood typing. Today, we can DNA type through mane and tail hair samples.
Since all of our purebreds have been DNA typed, if one of them is “found” in an auction or rescue situation, the new owner must exhaust all means of identifying the horse. Once that is done, we can DNA type the horse and compare it to the DNA markers of a significant percentage of registered Lipizzans and half-Lipizzans.
As the DNA parentage verification is a requirement, a person with an older purebred Lipizzan to register may find themselves in serious registration trouble. In the case of one or both parents being dead and not typed, the owner could run into very costly DNA analysis with full brothers or sisters, grandparents, any other relative to the horse being typed. This is to best discern a verification of parentage to the highest degree possible.
If a horse has European brands, we can usually go straight to the source now to verify those brands (i.e. the Spanish Riding School, Piber, Topolcianky).
We also have the vast knowledge and help of Lipizzan International Federation Breeding Commission member, Atjan Hop. Mr. Hop has recently helped the USLF fill some pedigree holes and clarify others and has also been instrumental in helping us to identify horses from other stud farms.
In addition, Europe is now starting to DNA type their Lipizzans. However, we are still unsure of where those records are being kept, how many countries are participating, and whether they will be available to the U.S.