07/30/2013 9:02PM

American Quarter Horse Association considering options after cloning case ruling


A jury has ruled against the American Quarter Horse Association in a cloning registration case that went to trial in Amarillo, Texas, on July 17. The AQHA prohibits the registration of cloned animals in a practice that was legally challenged by Jason Abraham and Gregg Veneklasen. The suit alleged violation of anti-trust laws. There were no damages awarded in the case, according to a statement on the website of the AQHA.

A 10-person jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled on the case Tuesday. A decision whether it will be appealed is forthcoming.

“We will meet with our legal counsel and executive committee regarding our appeal options in continuing to fight for our members’ rights and announce our decision in that regard in the near future,” Johne Dobbs, the president of the AQHA, said in a statement.

The AQHA serves as the official registry for Quarter Horses who race, but its organization also extends to show horses, cutting horses and other disciplines. According to its handbook, horses not eligible for registration include those “produced by any cloning process.”

“We are deeply disappointed by the outcome of this trial,” said Don Treadway Jr., the executive vice president of the AQHA. “It continues to be our position that our rule prohibiting the registration of clones and their offspring is both reasonable and lawful.”

The AQHA Handbook defines cloning as “any method by which the genetic material of an unfertilized egg or an embryo is removed and replaced by genetic material taken from another organism, added to/with genetic material from another organism, or otherwise modified by any means in order to produce a live foal.”

Abraham in April 2012 had been denied registration of at least eight cloned horses in case documents obtained by NBC News. At least two of the horses listed were produced from the donor cells of top-class cutting horses, one of them the  sport’s legendary Smart Little Lena. 

Conni Richmond More than 1 year ago
If anyone else follows the Professional Bull Riders, as I do, I have been expecting this to happen in Horse Racing. What do Bulls and horses have in common? Competition. In the P.B.R. they had a fantastic bucking bull by the name of Panhandle Slim, who they have cloned. In the bucking format, the top fifteen bulls in the World comeback for the final round of competition, and of that fifteen, consistently there are three or more of the cloned Panhandle Slims competing. It is the equivalent of our Ky Derby field, where only twenty of 34 thousand plus foals compete. In doing some research, I have learned that not only do these clones share Panhandle Slims athletic talent, they share his exact DNA. I have not found anything yet that says there is a way of differentiating the clone DNA from it's donor. I believe that the Quarter Horse Registry has welcomed this verdict by opening their registry to allow artificial insemination as well as Embryo Transplant, not to mention it is hard to argue that clones are not allowed to be registered while at the same time allowing mares to produce unlimited numbers of foals each year, and allowing the registration of foals sired by deceased stallions.Although I do not agree with allowing clones to compete, etc. I also do not agree with a mare being able to produce infinite numbers of foals per year, or the resurrection of long dead horses as sires. I think the logical assumption would have to be that if you are going to allow all of these other scientific methods of producing animals, how can you stop this one?
Laramie Bowcock More than 1 year ago
Don't certain entities in the thoroughbred world have something about natural coverage being required for registration? I remember hearing that somewhere. Hopefully it stays that way. Anyone ever hear what happened to those other Smart Little Lena clones (excluding Salute who is standing at stud in Australia)?
Conni Richmond More than 1 year ago
Yes, they do, although in 2011, I had the shock of my Life when of the six mares sent out to be bred in 2010, one had no foal, FOUR mares had twins, and only one mare had a single foal. Of the four sets of twins, the results were as expected, only one from one mare, and one from another, survived. They were sired by three different horses, and of the six mares, only two had any common relationships. There is a box you check when applying to register a TB foal, basically saying you will vouch for the fact the foal was conceived by natural cover. I refused to check that box, since I was not there when the mares were covered, and when I made a request to have this matter looked into by the Jockey Club, I was told they "did not have the funds to so". I do not know where my registration fees get spent, and they are not cheap, but I do know that I have never bred another mare.Losing any horse is devastating emotionally to me, losing so many babies even more so, but the financial devastation from losing two years on so many mares, and the astronomically high Vet bills along with around the clock 24 hour care lifting these babies up to nurse and bottle feed, can never be repaid. I believe that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, IT IS A DUCK. Natural Cover?? Hmm.
English Resources More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with the comments listed below. They had some real idiots on that jury!
Mike McCarty More than 1 year ago
No, No, and No. There are so many reason's not to let this happen it is beyond the scope of a comment box. . Even if the jurors were city slickers and didn't know a thing about horse racing or the industry as a whole, they ought to know that Willy Mays playing in their Kids little league game to stack the deck it the same thing. Rich Texans living off trust funds that can buy a jury ought to be taken for the joke they are.
geoman52 More than 1 year ago
Fully open this Pandora's box and this will be forced on Thoroughbreds as well. Then the sport of kings will become a mere freak show. Wanna see clone Secretariat race clone Man o'War? I don't.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
not a good thing.....because the next step is thoroughbreds
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Wanna kill Racing? Here's how to do it... They should never have registered ANY foal that was not by natural cover.
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
yup , after thinking it over harness racing is the next target...because they allow artificial insemination
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
It is certainly safer to maintain natural cover, since it seems that approving AI led to approving Embryo Transfer, which led to this ruling. Once you allow all of this medical intervention, is cloning really a stretch? On the other side, it is not a violation of rights to have standards for a breed registry; if someone wants to breed horses who don't meet the standards, he is welcome to found his own stud book. Anyway, do horses have to be registered anywhere to enter cutting contests? I should think Paints and Apps, and crosses would also be good at it, too.