freisian flyer

Flyer featuring Nanning 374, a now deceased KFPS Approved Stallion. Photo credit: Cally Matherly. Used with permission of the Fenway Foundation.

The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses, at the request of the The Koninklijke Vereniging “Het Friesch Paarden-Stamboek” (KFPS), the oldest studbook in the Netherlands, is about to embark on a research program that could have a positive impact on the lives of Friesian horses and their owners around the world. Fenway is incredibly fortunate to be partnering with researchers at the famed Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Wageningen University in The Netherlands.


But they aren’t just common researchers, they might be the most prestigious genetic research team in North America, if not the world. Kathryn Graves, PhD, Ernest Bailey, PhD and Ted Kalbfleisch, PhD, from the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Dr. B. J. Ducro at Wageningen University make up the Gluck/Wageningen/Fenway Friesian Genetic Research Initiative. Fenway and every Friesian owner in the world is blessed to have this team to study our beloved horses.


So, what are we researching? The genetic research team is going to work towards unlocking the genetic code that causes the megaesophagus and aortic rupture genetic flaw in our Friesian horses. Our goal is the development of a genetic test that will assist in breeding decisions and hopefully over time eliminate this debilitating and sometimes fatal genetic flaw in our horses both young and old.

This research program will require DNA samples from very specific affected and control candidates. We will publish those requirements in the very near future and look forward to cooperation by the Friesian community in finding those candidates and submitting appropriate samples. Fortunately, and encouragingly, is that many blood samples frozen for both horses with aortic rupture and megaesophagus have been collected and are now stored in The Netherlands. The advantage? This initiative my not have to wait for new samples to be collected. But as the program moves forward, more specific samples may be requested from the Friesian community.


Fenway, the genetic research team at Gluck, Wageningen and the KFPS hope the entire Friesian community are excited at the prospect of solving these genetic issues and insuring an enduring Friesian breed for our children, grandchildren and beyond.

| Source: Edited news release from the Fenway Foundation.