Cross-validation analysis for genetic evaluation models for ranking in endurance horses
Ranking trait was used as a selection criterion for competition horses to estimate racing performance. In the literature the most common approaches to estimate breeding values are the linear or threshold statistical models. However, recent studies have shown that a Thurstonian approach was able to fix the race effect (competitive level of the horses that participate in the same race), thus suggesting a better prediction accuracy of breeding values for ranking trait. The aim of this study was to
... compare the predictability of linear, threshold and Thurstonian approaches for genetic evaluation of ranking in endurance horses. For this purpose, eight genetic models were used for each approach with different combinations of random effects: rider, rider–horse interaction and environmental permanent effect. All genetic models included gender, age and race as systematic effects. The database that was used contained 4065 ranking records from 966 horses and that for the pedigree contained 8733 animals (47% Arabian horses), with an estimated heritability around 0.10 for the ranking trait. The prediction ability of the models for racing performance was evaluated using a cross-validation approach. The average correlation between real and predicted performances across genetic models was around 0.25 for threshold, 0.58 for linear and 0.60 for Thurstonian approaches. Although no significant differences were found between models within approaches, the best genetic model included: the rider and rider–horse random effects for threshold, only rider and environmental permanent effects for linear approach and all random effects for Thurstonian approach. The absolute correlations of predicted breeding values among models were higher between threshold and Thurstonian: 0.90, 0.91 and 0.88 for all animals, top 20% and top 5% best animals. For rank correlations these figures were 0.85, 0.84 and 0.86. The lower values were those between linear and threshold approaches (0.65, 0.62 and 0.51). In conclusion, the Thurstonian approach is recommended for the routine genetic evaluations for ranking in endurance horses.