Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wild Animal Research (IZW) in Berlin have announced a fascinating discovery in the history of gaited horses. By studying the genomes of ninety horses that lived between the Copper Age and the eleventh century, they have traced the spread of the fifth equine gait or amble. This builds on the recent discovery (read about it here) that a mutation to gene DMRT3 causes horses to tölt or pace.
According to the scientists, ambling, tölting or pacing horses seem to have originated in England in the ninth century and were then taken to Iceland by the Vikings and on to the rest of Europe and Asia.
I’m curious about this as I’m pretty sure some Mongolian horses amble, and I didn’t know they were descended in any way, shape or form from Viking horses. Also, pre-horse hipparions were pacers.
Here’s the details of the paper: Wutke S, Andersson L, Benecke N, Sandoval-Castellanos E, Gonzalez J, Hallsson JH, Lembi L, Magnell O, Morales-Muniz A, Orlando L, Pálsdóttir AH, Reissmann M, Muñioz-Rodríguez MB, Ruttkay M, Trinks A, Hofreiter M, Ludwig A (2016): The Origin of Ambling Horses. CURR BIOL 26, 697-698. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.001.