Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rare Canadian horses heading south - Full Article

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ROTTERDAM JUNCTION - One of the rarest horse breeds in the world is traveling through much of the Capital Region this week.

Galopin and Hannah are considered pure-blood Canadian horses, two of about 2,000 left in the world. The threat of the breed's extinction is listed as critical by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy.

Richard Blackburn and his wife, Louise Leroux, are traveling from their hometown of Morin Heights, Quebec, to Texas as a way to generate awareness and showcase the rare breed of horse. Blackburn rides the horses, while Leroux travels behind in their camper.

Their goal is to bring 50 DNA samples to Gus Cothran, the director of the Equine Genetics Research Facility at Texas A&M University. Cothran has been genetically mapping each known horse breed throughout history, Blackburn said, but he has never had DNA from a Canadian horse. Cothran thinks the 50 DNA samples from some of the purest Canadian horses will prove the contribution the Canadian horse made in North America, Blackburn said.

They plan to make a stop in Lexington, Ky., the home of all things horses, where Blackburn plans to leave one of his Canadians at the International Museum of the Horse. Each day at 2 p.m., there is a parade that showcases each horse breed. However, there has never been a Canadian horse in the parade because pure-blooded Canadians are too rare, Blackburn said.


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