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Columbus, OH — In December 2020, the U.S. Trotting Association joined forces with the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California Davis to assist in a research study entitled, “Genetic Investigation of Traits of Economic Importance in Horses.” The study is being conducted to help identify animals that carry genetic factors that lead to abnormalities.

With foaling season well underway, there are the hopes of many future owners for those foals making it to the winner’s circle one day.

But just like every other living creature, some are born with abnormalities that can greatly impact their lives. Some may be manageable with extra time and care, but others aren’t as lucky.

Working with the UC Davis, the USTA is providing a method for breeders and owners to report abnormalities in their foals with the goal of preventing these problems in the future.

There are many abnormalities that should be reported, including cleft palate, wry nose, Microphthalmia/Anophthalmia (underdeveloped eyes/missing eyes), contracted limbs, twisted umbilical cords, hydrocephalus, and other deformities.

Reporting these types of abnormalities not only helps further understanding the breed but could also help to prevent these issues from affecting future foals. Researching what causes these abnormalities will help strengthen the Standardbred breed, not only by physical characteristics but also by genetic characteristics as well.

“At Winbak Farm, we believe research that helps build a stronger breed is paramount to our operation and that herd health is of utmost importance,” says Jack Burke, manager of Winbak Farm, who have made the reporting of abnormalities a priority. “Better understanding how our breeding decisions affect the potential foals will help build a healthier breed and strengthen the foals being developed into future athletes.”

To participate in the study, a submission form, consent form, blood or hair samples and photos of the foal should be submitted to the USTA and UC Davis. To obtain or get further information on the forms or a DNA test kit, contact Gabby Fleming at or by calling toll free 877.800.USTA (8782).

The forms are also available online at this link.

Along with email, report forms can be mailed to:

United States Trotting Association
6130 S. Sunbury Rd.
Westerville, OH 43081
Attention: Gabby Fleming

DNA samples with identification should be sent to:

Dr. Rebecca Bellone/Elizabeth Esdaile
Veterinary Genetics Laboratory
Old Davis Road
Davis, CA 95616-8744

Participation in the study is voluntary and any participant has the right to withdraw from the study at any time. There is no financial obligation on the part of the participant.

Any data collected as part of participation in this study will remain confidential, but any of this data may be used for scientific purposes including publication of results without identifying a particular animal, owner or breeder.

The USTA will share any results from this study that are made public or published.