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Single Gene Mutation Responsible for Pacing

March 2014 by Horses and People Magazine

Researchers at Uppsala University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and their international collaborators discovered a mutation in a single gene in horses that is critical for the ability to perform ambling gaits, like pacing.

Experiments on this gene in mice have led to fundamental new knowledge about the neural circuits that control leg movements. This explains why some horse breeds are able to move their legs only in diagonal pairs, while others, like Standardbreds, Icelandic horses and Paso Fino horses, can also perform lateral gaits.

The study is a breakthrough for our understanding of spinal cord neuronal circuitry and its control of locomotion in vertebrates.