Riders Seek to Circle Globe, Collect DNA Samples

Two riders setting off on a journey around the world are also looking to compile the world's first complete equine genetic library through the unprecedented application of "crowd-sourcing." Every horse owner is encouraged to participate by sending in samples and photos.

Forms and information to participate are available at theworldride.org. Representative samples already are cataloged from nearly 100 horse breeds.

The Long Riders' Guild founders Basha and CuChullaine O'Reilly plan to ride for two years, crossing 11 countries.

Although the project is just starting, samples are arriving daily from global sources, including more remote regions such as Mongolia and Afghanistan. The master list of breeds can be accessed through the DNA section of the World Ride Web site, which is updated daily.

"The DNA part of the World Ride offers a wonderful opportunity to create a meaningful legacy by supporting an original mission which will advance knowledge about horses, as well as highlighting the potential to help save geographically isolated populations that are at risk of extinction," explained said Gus Cothran, PhD, clinical professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"Scientists already are asking for more samples because there are a host of possible puzzles they are eager to investigate including horse behavior, the life code of legendary racehorses, development of the equine embryo, and genetic conservation of endangered breeds," said Basha O'Reilly.

The stated Long Riders' Guild Academic Foundation's Equine DNA Database mission includes:

  • To create the first complete master list of every equine breed;
  • To collect DNA from every known breed;
  • To identify the breeds in danger of extinction;
  • To contribute to the conservation of these breeds;
  • To promote equine genetic research in a variety of academic fields;
  • To compile the results of the scientific investigations and to disseminate this information internationally;
  • To collaborate with academic institutions on educational programs related to the study of equine DNA.

About the Author

Tom Moates

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