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Course Description

a hand-drawn image of horses running through a blue DNA strand

Learn and understand important concepts of equine genetics, how they relate to the selection and breeding of horses, and how each horse is a product of its genes. Examine how the genetics of a horse influence its potential to perform, or render it susceptible to disease, unsoundness, or genetic disorder.

You will be guided from Mendelian inheritance and medical genetics to the polygenic determination of coat colour. Study the quantitative traits determined by the interaction of multiple genes and the environment. The significance of pedigrees, methods of parentage testing, and how breeds are genetically distinct will also be covered.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain how genetic variation is achieved through mutation and meiosis;
  • Explain the fundamentals of Mendelian genetics and how they apply to the expression of genetic disorders  and how breeding decisions can affect the incidence of genetic disorders;
  • Discuss the genetics of coat colour;
  • Explain the concept of heritability for quantitative traits such as conformation and performance, how it is applied in a breeding program, and what it means in terms of the relative contributions of genetics and the environment;
  • Discuss how DNA testing can be utilized by breeders and horse owners to enhance the performance and welfare of horses;
  • Investigate and discuss the development of breeds and how selection, reproductive isolation, and bottlenecks contribute to the genetic identity of a breed and use this information to evaluate the genetic status of breeds or populations; and
  • Compare and contrast the genetic and chromosomal connections and distinctions between the various species that are all considered to be members of the genus “Equus” and assess the value of genetic preservation programs.

Course Topics

  • The Basis of Genetics: Mitosis & Meiosis; Genes (Introduction)
  • Mendelian Genetics
  • Single Gene Disorders of the Horse Part 1
  • Single Gene Disorders of The Horse Part 2
  • Coat Colour Genetics
  • Genetics of Coat Patterns
  • Genetics of Quantitative Traits
  • Genetics of Performance Traits
  • Pedigrees and Breeding Schemes
  • Population Genetics & The Genetic Identity of Breeds
  • Equus: More than Just Horses

Sample Careers

This course is designed for those looking to increase their understanding of the horse, advance their careers in the equine industry and expand their knowledge and skills in the area of equine science.

Additional Requirements

  • This course is intended for adult learners who are at least 18 years of age.
  • There are no prerequisites for this course.
  • You may take this as an individual course or choose to complete one of our equine certificates or the diploma.*
  • You do not need access to a horse to participate and be successful in this course.
  • You can expect to spend 6-10 hours per week to complete the course material, discussions and assignments.

*We recommend that you complete Management of the Equine Environment first, or very early in your course of studies. This course is offered every semester.


Assessment Item Weight
Quizzes (5) 40%
Final Quiz 20%
Participation 10%
Major Assignment 30%
Total 100%

Please note that the course assessment is subject to change.

Sponsoring Partner

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.

View the upcoming course schedule at Equine Studies Upcoming Schedule.

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