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Discussion Starter #1
Ah, making another genetics thread not related to colors! So the other day I happened across someone that said that Secretariat ran with a double suspension transverse gallop rather than a regular single suspension transverse gallop. They also claimed it was part of why he was such a great race horse, that it allowed him to continue the 'sprint' speed for longer than other horses.

Now, before this I had never heard of horses using a double suspension transverse and honestly I couldn't find much more information on the topic but now I'm very curious! I was watching various race footage of Secretariat and awkwardly trying to pause it on every frame to spot the differences, I swear I saw something but who knows. Does anyone know if this is true or not? Or happen to know of any good footage of secretariat's gallop in slow motion or something so it could be seen?

This is the standard single suspension transverse gallop:


This is the double suspension transverse gallop:


Does anyone know of any other horses that did this as well? Is there some different genetics behind it? From what I read there were a few different theories, but over all not a lot of mention of it regarding horses at all. Most of the articles focused around greyhounds, whippets and cheetahs. The brief parts about horses; I believe one suggested that a difference to the muscular skeletal system? Or a gene mutation relating to Myostatin, though I may have been confused.

That did lead me to another mess of things though, particularly about myostatin mutations.

Selective breeding for speed in the racehorse has resulted in an unusually high frequency of the C-variant (g.66493737C/T) at the myostatin gene (MSTN) in cohorts of the Thoroughbred horse population that are best suited to sprint racing.
Here we show using a combination of molecular- and pedigree-based approaches in 593 horses from 22 Eurasian and North-American horse populations, museum specimens from 12 historically important Thoroughbred stallions (b.1764–1930), 330 elite-performing modern Thoroughbreds and 42 samples from three other equid species that the T-allele was ancestral and there was a single introduction of the C-allele at the foundation stages of the Thoroughbred from a British-native mare. Furthermore, we show that although the C-allele was rare among the celebrated racehorses of the 18th and 19th centuries, it has proliferated recently in the population via the stallion Nearctic (b.1954), the sire of the most influential stallion of modern time, Northern Dancer (b.1961).
That same page more information but it was only available via purchase. :c

Some interesting information about it regarding dogs I will quote below, however I don't know if it applies the same to horses.

We know that muscle mass is extremely important to power such an engine on the basis of another rotary galloper: the whippet. The whippet is a medium-sized sight hound breed, closely related to the greyhound. Like cheetahs and greyhounds, the whippet is also is able to attain very fast speeds using a rotary gallop, reaching over 55 km/h over short distances.

A number of years ago, people found that some whippets are decidedly faster than others. These whippets are characterised by having high muscle mass.

People who desired fast whippets found that the high muscle mass trait was inherited, but in an interesting manner. When a pair of these high muscle mass, fast whippets were bred together, half of their offspring were like their parents, but one quarter of the pups were like normal whippets, while the final quarter was like no normal whippet. This final quarter of the puppies looked like body builders.The latter group of whippets are known as “bully whippets” due to their resemblance to bull terriers. Bully whippets were stocky, incredibly muscular dogs. Bully whippets have a trait called “muscle doubling”. They literally have double the muscle tissue found in normal whippets. Some meat-producing cattle breeds, and the occasional human, have the same trait.

Muscle doubling in whippets, cattle and humans arises due to mutations in a gene that is involved in controlling muscle development. The gene encodes the growth factor known as mysostatin. Myostatin restricts muscle development to ensure that the right amount of muscle is made. Bully whippets carry two copies of a dysfunctional myostatin gene. Consequently, muscle formation is not kept in check by myostatin. This poses no advantage to bully whippets in terms of speed. In fact, bully whippets are hindered by their extra muscle, and are not as fast as even normal whippets.

By contrast, fast whippets carry only one mutated version of this gene. Consequently, they produce more muscle – not so much as to be a hindrance, but, instead, an amount that is an advantage for running fast. Regular whippets have two normal versions of the same gene – so they can run fast, but not as fast as the mutants with one copy of the mutated gene. Recent evidence indicates that some racehorses may be advantaged in a similar way with mutant versions of their myostatin gene. This is particularly true for sprinting horse breeds, like the Quarter Horse. The Quarter Horse acquired its name as this breed was bred to “sprint” a quarter of a mile.

SO! Can anyone perhaps shed some more light on either of these two topics?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. :/ It'd be/is very cool though if it is/were true!
 

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Interesting. I've never heard about it either but I can kind of understand why they have the theory. I'm sure you may have seen this picture but I'll post anyway. This is the closest one I've found to getting to the first suspension phase.



It's interesting because here's another horse that appears to have a very similar movement. I can't quite figure out what his name is on the site the photo is from but he is Big Brown x Cool Ghoul. Here is the website: Running Rough Shod: March 2012

And if I read it right, he was the high seller in the sale, so maybe there is something behind it.

Photo


From my non expert eyeballs, haha, they appear to almost arch into their strides rather than just going forward, giving them extra hand time. I'd like to see some footage of the above horse.

This is the horse I was looking at as a comparison. It appears to be in the same stride phase but doesn't have as much hang time.


Very interesting.
 

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It is interesting! I've never even clued in to that before...but I will now. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That is very similar Bridgertrot! I'll have to keep an eye out for that Big Brown son when he starts racing. I feel like from that picture it's very possible it's what that colt and Secretariat may have been doing now that I look at all these pictures and then back at the chart. Like the chestnut colt, his left fore is almost touching/about to touch already in the stride where as the Big Brown colt and Secretariat's fore feet look like they've got a lot more air time before the strike down, making it (to my eye) seem very possible for them to have enough time to 'push' off again. And I believe it does say that colt was the high sale of the day, I wonder if that's partly why? The more educated eyes saw something promising/special about him? Ah, this is so exciting and interesting!
 

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I think this is really interesting. I also had heard that Secretariat had a larger chest and lungs which is why he was fast he could oxygenate quicker. With respect to the "bully whippets" I wonder how close this is to the "impressive" genes? It sounds like a similar disorder.

If the big brown colt was sold a the yearling sales such as Keeneland than he would not have been in training and thus any talent would be based on luck and breeding. His sales price would be the result of his breeding. Big Brown is no slouch. Cool Ghoul goes back to Native Dancer (great grandfather) she started ten times and only ended up earning 10,910 in winnings (1 win and 1 place). The value of the foal is in Big Brown, who coincidentally goes back to Northern Dancer who's grand father is Native Dancer. So the foals paternal great great grandfather and great grandfather are the same horse.

Interestingly Secretariat goes back to Nearco, Nasrullah and Bold Ruler in his pedigree. Where it gets a little interesting is that a horse named Nearctic had Nearco. Nearctic is also in Big Browns pedigree. So basically Big Brown and Secretariat are distant relatives. Which means that if the double suspension is genetic its possible that it is in Big Brown.
 

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I think this is really interesting. I also had heard that Secretariat had a larger chest and lungs which is why he was fast he could oxygenate quicker. With respect to the "bully whippets" I wonder how close this is to the "impressive" genes? It sounds like a similar disorder.

If the big brown colt was sold a the yearling sales such as Keeneland than he would not have been in training and thus any talent would be based on luck and breeding. His sales price would be the result of his breeding. Big Brown is no slouch. Cool Ghoul goes back to Native Dancer (great grandfather) she started ten times and only ended up earning 10,910 in winnings (1 win and 1 place). The value of the foal is in Big Brown, who coincidentally goes back to Northern Dancer who's grand father is Native Dancer. So the foals paternal great great grandfather and great grandfather are the same horse.

Interestingly Secretariat goes back to Nearco, Nasrullah and Bold Ruler in his pedigree. Where it gets a little interesting is that a horse named Nearctic had Nearco. Nearctic is also in Big Browns pedigree. So basically Big Brown and Secretariat are distant relatives. Which means that if the double suspension is genetic its possible that it is in Big Brown.
He wasn't sold at the yearling sale, he was sold as a 2 year old in training. The photos above are from around that sale time. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/72985/13-million-big-brown-colt-named-darwin
 

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This is really awesome! Have any of you ever been able to find photos of any other significant horses (like seabiscuit etc.) that are compareable to that same stride?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You got me curious EmilyJoy, I'll look for that tonight! On the same topic, I noticed that too in the older race horse art! I am loving this thread and all the contributions! <3

Also, some input on the whole, Darwin going back to Nasrullah and bold ruler, same as Secretariat. My OTTB gelding I had, Remington, was a Bold Ruler grand son. He didn't excel on the track (one win) but honestly after riding him I'm fairly sure it wasn't for a lack of physical ability but simply because he didn't have the drive/temperament for it. I might be biased or something but I must say when he was at a flat out gallop it felt different from any gallop I'd ever ridden. It was literally like flying. I can't even think of a better way to explain it. I never got any videos of him galloping to look back on, nor did I know about any of this when I owned him so I can't say for sure if it was there or if I might be imagining it. Ahh I might be getting a bit ahead of myself!

I'm definitely excited now to keep an eye on Darwin as he continues to train and race! I wonder if this has ever potentially been noticed in horses that aren't from the bold ruler and nasrullah lines? Very interesting. I'll be back with some pictures of other well known race horses in full stride if I can find anything similar! Keep the stuff coming guys, I am loving this.
 

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I'm all curious about Darwin now too. I found a place that has a video of one of his races but it wants you to make an account...which I don't want to haha. He won his maiden race and a few others, one of which he finished two lengths ahead. He suffered an injury at one point. But looks like he came back from it to get two more wins and a 3. Horse Racing | Horse Racing Entries | Horse Racing Results | Past Performances | Mobile | Statistics

There's videos on there of the races, but looks like you have to pay for them. It appears he's not in the US anymore either.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Seabiscuit:


Not seeing it there at all, the left fore is completely planted and the right hind hasn't even begun to come up.

Same with Man O War, from what I could find:


Left fore fully planted and the right hind is just barely coming up.

I honestly had like 0 luck finding pictures of Bold Ruler in the fully extended stride, this was about the best I could find and the angle is kinda odd:


Looks like POTENTIALLY enough air time there for an extra suspension? But it's hard to tell.

I can't seem to find ANY decent racing pictures of Nasrullah. >.<

Some other various well known horses for comparison to the ones that we suspect of having the double suspension:

Barbaro:


Looks like there's no way there, right hind is deeply planted and the left fore is already about to touch the ground.

Affirmed seems like a maybe though?



He goes back to Gallant Fox and Native Dancer. Gallant Fox stuck out to me a bit since he was also a Triple Crown winner. I tried to find decent racing pictures of Gallant Fox to no avail. No luck on his son Omaha either, sadly.

And Big Brown, since his colt is one of the suspect ones!


I'm kinda iffy on if I see it potentially there or not. Hmm.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Hmm, I wonder if Darwin is still racing or if he retired? Also, I kept pausing the video but honestly I couldn't really tell if there was or wasn't anything extra there. :/ hmm.

EDIT TO ADD: Rookie, Secretariat DID have a larger heart than normal. It was estimated his heart weighed roughly 22lbs. This is because he carried the X factor gene, or 'large heart gene'. Phar Lap did as well, as well as numerous other race horses. It traces back to the stallion Ecplise.
 
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