Journal of animal breeding and genetics = Zeitschrift für Tierzüchtung und Züchtungsbiologie vol:126 issue:5 pages:378-86
Genetic parameters for the height at withers, 27 linear type and six linear gait traits were estimated for the Belgian warmblood horse. Observations on 987 mares, mostly 3 years old, were analysed using a multi-trait animal model. The statistical model included appraiser, age and location (date x place of appraisal) as fixed effects. Genetic parameters were estimated using a canonical transformation and an expectation-maximization restricted maximum likelihood algorithm with an additional deceleration step. Estimates of heritability for the 33 linear traits were between 0.15 and 0.55. Heritability of the height at withers was 0.34 +/- 0.06. Estimated genetic correlations ranged from -0.60 to 0.98 with an average SE of 0.10. The highest positive correlations were found among traits of walk and among traits of trot. Volume and the quality of legs were the most negatively correlated. Estimated genetic parameters indicated that the linear scoring system is a valuable tool to assess conformation. The full (co)variance matrix is now available for breeding value estimation to support selection for conformation and gaits.