Gene genie: Britain’s golden boy

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Pearl of Peace - Oro - has a dressage and stud career ahead of him.
Pearl of Peace – Oro – has a dressage and stud career ahead of him.

Golden Spanish horse Pearl of Peace is special and he knows it.

Oro as a foal. His green eyes have changed to hazel.
Oro as a foal. His green eyes have changed to hazel.

The rising two-year-old pure Spanish colt is a genetic rarity and the only horse of his breed in Britain to possess the double pearl and double black gene.

The cheeky youngster is also proving popular on social media, and in the past month Pearl of Peace  – known as Oro at home – has doubled his Facebook followers to more than 212,000.

He regales his dedicated international fan base with photo posts, videos, questions and caption contests.

His name – Oro – means gold in Spanish and Italian, and he is expected to mature out at 16.2hh.

His sire is the double pearl stallion Impetuoso Gap II, and his dam is Vega X, by Inesperada II and out of Lastur, by Gaucho III.

Born in March 2012, Oro’s colouring is a result of the reaction of the pearl gene (a coat dilution modifier) upon a bay coat, turning it into a bright gold. He was born with green eyes, but they have changed to hazel as he has aged.

But Pearl of Peace – known as Oro at home – doesn’t just have colour on his side. His owners say he has perfect conformation and even at this young age is moving beautifully. He was bred to be a dressage horse and his pedigree includes several top performers, including his famous great-grandsire Gaucho III, who was a top dressage stallions in the USA and was shortlisted to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics before he was injured.

Before his Grand Prix dressage career in the US, Gaucho III was trained by Juan Matute in Spain. Gaucho’s half brother Invasor II represented Spain twice at Olympic level, winning team bronze in 2000 and team silver in 2004. Both Gaucho III is a descendant of Lebrijano III, whose line is highly valued in Spain and the US. Lebrijano was a brother to Leviton, who is considered one of the most prestigious breeding stallions of modern Spanish PRE history.

Oro with his mum, Vega X.
Oro with his mum, Vega X.

The Pearl coat dilution modifier,  is the most recent colour to be mapped for genetic testing in equines. The gene has been confirmed in only a few breeds and is considered to be one of the most rare colour traits. The visual coat colour changes caused by Pearl Dilution are based upon the foundation colour of the horse, for example the phenotype of a double-pearl Bay, will vary from the phenotype of a double pearl Chestnut.

Oro’s owners, Equus Vita, will stand him at stud when he is three. The Essex stud farm now has several youngsters that possess the rare Pearl gene, and is believed to be the sole breeder of the double pearl gene in the UK.


Oro on Facebook

Equus Vita Stud

The genetic mapping for Pearl of Peace (PrlPrl):

PrlPrl – Homozygous. Horse is positive for Pearl, and carries two inherited copies of the gene The Pearl Gene is a recessive, cream-activated, dilution gene. Recessive means that one copy of the gene in a horse has no expression (is “invisible”), and two copies (homozygosity) results in full expression (in the case of the Pearl Gene, it dilutes the base colour once). Cream-activated means that it also reacts with cream: it shows up, adding another instance of dilution, if there is a cream gene present. In this case it manifests as a “double dilution”: pearl and cream. The Homozygous Pearl specimen will pass the Pearl gene to 100% of foals, but may only produce diluted offspring if bred to another Pearl or Cream carrier.

The video below shows Oro playing in his field.

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