Pulling DNA Horse Hair Samples

How do you get DNA from a horse?

Getting DNA from a horse is easiest by gently pulling hair from the mane or tail, making sure the bulb at the end is still there. Alternatively, DNA can be extracted from blood, offering a higher DNA yield with enhanced purity compared to hair. However, for practicality, many owners find it more convenient to opt for a hair sample due to its ease of collection.


Will it hurt my horse?

Despite initial concerns about discomfort, horses typically exhibit minimal or no reaction to this procedure. A simple trick is to allow your horse to munch on a snack while pulling hair and they will be busy eating to pay much mind to what you are doing. 


What do you with a sample once it is received?

Upon arrival at the lab, each hair sample is assigned a unique accession number for identification. 

Any hair submitted in plastic bags must be removed and transferred to an envelope because moisture trapped in plastic bags can damage the DNA on the hair bulb. Hair bulb DNA can be stable for years if kept in a cool, dry place.

There are two methods to extract DNA from hair bulbs, but both protocols begin by cutting the bulb off the hair. Different methods of hair bulb DNA extraction are specific for how the DNA will be used later on.

The DNA is now ready to be used for whatever the lab needs.


Hair Sample Pulling Tips:

Our lab primarily relies on DNA extracted from pulled hair samples, ensuring the hair bulb remains intact. 

You can pull hair from either the mane or tail, but we recommend the tail for its longer length, making it easier to grip. Pulling the hair in a downward motion is more convenient compared to the upward motion sometimes required for mane hair, especially if you have a very tall horse.

We need a minimum of 30 strands of hair, equivalent to a pencil's width. You can pull the hairs in one clump or in several clumps from different areas of the tail along the tailbone.

Here are some tips for pulling hair:

  1. Wrap the hairs around your hand, then pull down in one quick motion.
  2. To protect your hand, wrap masking tape around your pinkie finger.
  3. Keep the bulb ends together.
  4. You may trim off excess hair, leaving at least 4 inches from the bulb.


For more information on our horse breed tests, please click here.

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