In this study, the selection and breeding of Friesian horses in Southern Africa were evaluated. Literature was reviewed for sUbjective and objective selection criteria in horse breeding with special reference to the Friesian. 852 Pedigree records from Friesian horses registered at the FPSSA and SAFBA, were included for pedigree analyses and 232 horses were measured for eight different linear body measurements. Only 25,7% of the population was found to be inbred. A regression of average inbreeding on year of the whole population, indicated a relatively slow increase in the rate of inbreeding. It is, however, suspected that this could be a conservative estimation, because of the limited pedigree information. The results indicated that the Friesian horse is normally of rectangular (height at withers: body length) shape. A large average difference between wither height and back height was observed. The cannon length measurements were proportional to overall size, no obvious deviations were observed. Pearson correlation estimates between the eight body measurements were mostly in accordance with other studies on horses reported in the literature. A sire model was fitted for the estimation of heritability for wither-, back- and croup height, body length, cannon circumference and cannon length. Estimates ranged from 0.30 for wither height to 0.57 for cannon circumference. The results indicate that South African breeders can apply body measurements in their selection programs for Friesians. From the results, guidelines were provided for establishing a database for Friesian horses in Southern Africa to ensure a scientific approach to selection and breeding.
Dissertation (MSc (Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2006.