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Couple Travels from Canada on Horseback to See TAMU Genetics Expert
COLLEGE STATION, TX -Canadian film-makers Rick
Blackburn and his wife Louise Leroux are on a cross-country trip
like no other. They are riding two Canadian horses from Quebec,
Canada to College Station, Texas to bring 50 samples of Canadian
horse genes to Dr. Gus Cothran, director of equine genetics at the
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine &
The Canadian horse is a breed that goes back hundreds of years
and has had a rich history in North America. Unfortunately, they
are now one of the rarest horse breeds in the world with only about
2,500 pure-blood Canadian horses left. They are also listed as
critical by the American Livestock Conservation Association.
"We are taking this journey to Texas A&M to both enlist Dr.
Cothran's help in mapping the horses' genes to find out how the
Canadian horse has influenced the blood lines of other North
American horses, but also to raise awareness for this dying breed,"
An expert in population and conservation genetics, Cothran is
only one of a few people in the world that does work on genetics of
horses as it relates to breed conservation. Until recently he has
had very little opportunity to study the Canadian horse because of
"The diverse samples that Mr. Blackburn collected from top
Canadian horse breeders across Canada will enable me to do a more
comprehensive analysis of the breed. There is a strong probability
that these horses are ancestors to a variety of common North
American breeds such as the Morgan horse," states Cothran. "This
information should bring to light the genetic and historical
importance of the Canadian horse and hopefully spark people's
interest in conserving the breed."
These outcomes are the very reason that Blackburn and Leroux
have taken on this three-month, 2,500 mile trail ride. Starting on
May 11, 2009, they arrived in College Station on August 31,
"At 25 to 35 miles a day it has been a long journey for sure,"
says Blackburn. "But the opportunity to highlight this breed and to
demonstrate its legendary ruggedness by riding them cross-country
has definitely been worth-while. There has been an incredible
grass-roots interest from Americans in what we are doing and that
gives us hope that we will be able to save these horses."
Blackburn and Leroux are also turning this unique experience
into a film entitled, "The Legend of the Canadian Horse" that will
air on Canadian network television.
For more information on the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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