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View Full Version : Spotted horses not popular in Middle Ages (Wutke 2016)



Jean M
12-08-2016, 02:23 PM
Saskia Wutke, Norbert Benecke, Edson Sandoval-Castellanos, Hans-Jürgen Döhle, Susanne Friederich, Javier Gonzalez, Jón Hallsteinn Hallsson, Michael Hofreiter, Lembi Lõugas, Ola Magnell, Arturo Morales-Muniz, Ludovic Orlando, Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir, Monika Reissmann, Matej Ruttkay, Alexandra Trinks & Arne Ludwig, Spotted phenotypes in horses lost attractiveness in the Middle Ages, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 38548 (2016): http://www.nature.com/articles/srep38548

Abstract:


Horses have been valued for their diversity of coat colour since prehistoric times; this is especially the case since their domestication in the Caspian steppe in ~3,500 BC. Although we can assume that human preferences were not constant, we have only anecdotal information about how domestic horses were influenced by humans. Our results from genotype analyses show a significant increase in spotted coats in early domestic horses (Copper Age to Iron Age). In contrast, medieval horses carried significantly fewer alleles for these phenotypes, whereas solid phenotypes (i.e., chestnut) became dominant. This shift may have been supported because of (i) pleiotropic disadvantages, (ii) a reduced need to separate domestic horses from their wild counterparts, (iii) a lower religious prestige, or (iv) novel developments in weaponry. These scenarios may have acted alone or in combination. However, the dominance of chestnut is a remarkable feature of the medieval horse population.

As David has pointed out, there are some nuggets about earlier times deeper into the text: http://eurogenes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/middle-ages-rotten-time-to-be-spotted.html

AJL
12-08-2016, 03:26 PM
Too bad, I've also had a soft spot for dapple greys and pintos...

razyn
12-08-2016, 03:31 PM
I wonder if the American colonies (of Spain, especially) were sort of a dumping ground for less desirable horses. Assateague and Chincoteague island "ponies" spring to mind, because I live near them. But I think quite a lot of the horses now, or formerly, bred by Native Americans in the western US are also spotted, and might originally have been brought up from Mexico or other Gulf states. That didn't happen all that long after the Middle Ages.

The human stock in some of these colonies were also more or less dumped there -- penal colonies, and so forth.

JohnHowellsTyrfro
12-08-2016, 07:32 PM
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Bad publicity) John
"When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
— Revelation 6:7-8"

Saetro
12-08-2016, 10:01 PM
Saskia Wutke, Norbert Benecke, Edson Sandoval-Castellanos, Hans-Jürgen Döhle, Susanne Friederich, Javier Gonzalez, Jón Hallsteinn Hallsson, Michael Hofreiter, Lembi Lõugas, Ola Magnell, Arturo Morales-Muniz, Ludovic Orlando, Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir, Monika Reissmann, Matej Ruttkay, Alexandra Trinks & Arne Ludwig, Spotted phenotypes in horses lost attractiveness in the Middle Ages, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 38548 (2016): http://www.nature.com/articles/srep38548


This is very, very thin on non-DNA references.
There is far more iconography (visual depiction) study and textural study to be done here.
The listing of possibilities is useful.
They could have at least correlated the DNA found with the archaeology - the physical stature and apparent social function of each horse analysed: were war-horses one colour, plow/draught horses similar, pack horses another and so on.
A good start.
Hopefully more to come from this group, with more detail.

JohnLightbridge
01-01-2017, 08:31 PM
I wonder if the American colonies (of Spain, especially) were sort of a dumping ground for less desirable horses. Assateague and Chincoteague island "ponies" spring to mind, because I live near them. But I think quite a lot of the horses now, or formerly, bred by Native Americans in the western US are also spotted, and might originally have been brought up from Mexico or other Gulf states. That didn't happen all that long after the Middle Ages.

The human stock in some of these colonies were also more or less dumped there -- penal colonies, and so forth.

Well the Nez were well known for their painted ponies [Appaloosas & Paints].

But I doubt the Americas was an actual dumping grounds. The cost of shipping a horse can be expensive nowadays. Why would you waste money back then caring for an animal that isn't worth a pence?


The only reason why human stock was dumped in the colonies is two fold. Some of them actually didn't come from bad families, nor for that matter could you line them all up and simply hang them without getting some degree of backlash, and well you couldn't just simply shove them all in a poor house because a poor house isn't a prison. And well prisons cost money.

Besides that "dumped" human stock pretty much got the bottom dregs of any treatment during their forced shipment to the colonies. Many died after all.




Spotted horses not popular in Middle Ages (Wutke 2016)

There's no denying that painted / spotted horses weren't overly common. Appaloosas are the most commonly thought of pattern. But the tiger Norikers & the famous circus breed, the Knabstrupper, only really started appearing in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even the Gypsy Cobs in the old photographs [from real Roma & not the animals erroneously (real Gyspy cobs were a bit different than what you see nowadays) sold off as "Vanners"] show animals that were widely solid in coloration and not their infamous painted patterns.

But to say they weren't popular is not quite right.

There is, after all, a catch.

They weren't common among the average joe / working class. There's a number of paintings which show that nobility favored painted / patterned horses above all others. Marengo, Napoleon's horse, was a dark dappled grey. Louis XIV of France is painted on a piebald [black&white] pinto & not one but three separate probable leopard Appaloosas. There's a 17th century English duke [Newcastle] whose horses include a dappled grey & what is a likely frame overo.

It would, after all, have been their status symbol. Same as owning an exotic hunting dog, such as a Saluki or pureblood Wolfhound, rather than just some hound or lurcher that you can find on any old street corner like average joe would have.



You also have to take into consideration leopard, paint and similarly patterned horses oftentimes carry with them health issues. Lethal white for example can kill foals before they're even born. LP [or leopard complex] can lead to CSNB (night blindness) and other issues. Characteristics that hamper an animal of course won't encourage the breeding of such an animal.