Horse News

Horse Cloners Fight in Court to Make More “Unwanted” Horses

I’ve written about the horse cloning company ViaGen in past articles, including more about the history of cloned horses included in this article

There is a survey below the NBC news article that asks “Should cloning be used to create animals for competition or food?”  If ViaGen wins this court case, will it crack open the door for them to clone horses for food?  (think of what Monsanto has done)   – Debbie Coffey


Horse cloners try to force their way into the starting gate

Lynn Roberts / AP

Rocky Mountain Fly (12) with jockey Stevie Gillum aboard, narrowly edges Political Option (3), with John Hamilton in the irons, to win the Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans on Dec. 8, 2012.

Editor’s note: This story includes a correction.

Horse race fixers have long used “ringers” to pull off betting coups, but a new kind of ringer — genetic duplicates cloned from the DNA of yesterday’s champions — could soon be barreling around a racetrack near you if two Texas horsemen have their way.

In a lawsuit set for trial Tuesday in Texas, the horsemen are asking a federal judge to force the American Quarter Horse Association to register cloned horses and their offspring, arguing that it is violating antitrust law by refusing to do so.

A decision favoring the plaintiffs — Jason Abraham of Canadian, Texas, and Gregg Veneklasen of Amarillo — could clear the way for clones to compete in sanctioned quarter horse races at scores of racetracks in the U.S. and elsewhere. The clones would in many cases be genetic duplicates of quarter horse royalty like Tailor Fit, a two-time world champion — and a gelding — who now has a young copy named Pure Tailor Fit.

Debate is raging over how cloning could impact the American Quarter Horse — an agile horse bred for speed rather than stamina. Quarter horse racing, which generated more than $300 million in wagering at U.S. racetracks in 2012, is the third most popular form of equine racing after thoroughbred and standardbred racing, and quarter horses also are prized in rodeo events for their athleticisim. Stallions like Pure Taylor Fit can bring in $1,500 or more per mating.

Whether or not the pro-cloning argument carries the day in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo, equine clones will be appearing before the year is out in other equine sporting venues — including non-breed specific rodeo competitions like barrel racing and reining, polo matches and equestrian events leading up to the 2014 Olympics, according to backers of the technology.

Cloning critics say allowing the procedure could concentrate the genetic pool and undermine efforts to improve the breed.

In a statement on its website, the AQHA says it intends to vigorously defend its ban, arguing that as a voluntary private association it has the right to set rules favored by a majority and citing a recent survey that found 86 percent of its members oppose cloning.

It also said that accepting clones would render useless its use of DNA to track horses’ lineage, because clones would possess the same DNA as the original.

“Clones don’t have parents,” it said. “Cloning is not breeding.”

In 2006, a Texas company called ViaGen impregnated a mare with a cloned embryo produced from the DNA of Royal Blue Boon, an animal that earned its owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in competition. NBC affiliate KFOR covered the story at the time.

Researchers clone animals by transplanting the genetic information from a cell in a donor animal — either dead or alive — into an unfertilized egg cell whose genetic information has been destroyed or physically removed. In the case of horses, that egg is then implanted into a surrogate mare, where — if everything goes smoothly — it develops into a viable foal.

Commercial cloning of farm animals like cattle and pigs is increasing, but questions remain about the technology.

The Roslyn Institute of Edinburgh, Scotland, which created the world’s first cloned animal — Dolly the sheep — in 1996, “no longer undertakes research related to cloning of animals” and notes that some physical abnormalities have been observed in clones.

“Cloned animals have, in some cases, displayed growth defects although exactly why is not known,” it says on its website. “The growth defects are probably a result of the in-vitro culture conditions and due to changes in chromatin in the nucleus, but further research would be required to fully understand this.”

But the potential for defects isn’t what riles many quarter horse breeders and owners about the lawsuit, which seeks damages and an injunction that would prevent the AQHA from barring clones from the official breed registry.

A former AQHA president made “intimidating remarks and references to the immorality of cloning” and vowed that the “AQHA will allow cloning over my dead body” at a meeting of the organization last year, according to the complaint.

‘An uneducated voice’
Veneklasen, who is both a plaintiff in the lawsuit and a veterinarian who has participated in the cloning of many horses, argues that a few influential AQHA members have swayed opinion against the technology and kept a proposal to drop the cloning ban from being considered.

“The loud voice is an uneducated voice and an opinionated voice,” he said. “And four or five voices are all that people are getting to hear.”

Veneklasen argues cloning would strengthen the quarter horse breed by re-introducing genetics from past champions who are deceased or otherwise unable to breed, possibly because they were gelded before reaching their prime. He also said it could help reduce diseases prevalent in quarter horses by enabling breeders to “silence detrimental genes.”

But many opponents within the AQHA say it would have the opposite effect.

“From a breeder’s standpoint … we try to continually further improvement of the American quarter horse through selective breeding: Pick the best sire, match him to the best mare to produce the best foal,” said Micah McKinney, an AQHA member who operates Reliance Ranches in Llano, Texas. “I think that copying what already has been done would be going backward in the progression toward a better breed.”

Art Caplan, head of the medical ethics division at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and an NBC News contributor, said opponents like McKinney are right to be concerned, but are unlikely to prevail in what he described as an “ethically complex” case.

14 replies »

  1. Genetic engineering and genetically modified food are part of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8 (j). This is the multi-national treaty designed to be the hard law that the treaty President Geoge H. W. Bush signed in 1992 on the UN Franework for the Environment. As you pointed out in several earlier articles, Deb, although the Senate never took an up or down vote on this treaty, President Clinton’s signature made the U. S. a signatory to the convention. As such we are supposed to be able to maintain our sovreign nation status, but individual federal agencies can use the articles of the Convention as if they were federal statutes. Thus, the provide the “legal” or statutory basiis that is required before federal agencies can incorporate any type of policies through rules or regulations.

    I have come across some significance science that indicates that horses and humans have some similar systems suggesting that parts of horse tissue could be used for genetic testing and genetic engineering to treat human diseases. There is nothing at all that makes sense of slaughtering these horses for food, so perhaps we need to consider that there are other reasons that our horses are being slaughtered other than food.

    Vice President Al Gore’s theory that the Earth heated up after the Industrial Age because human activity and use of fossil fuels is the biggest fraud perpetuated on mankind. This man has so little respect for scientific integrity or accuracy that he would gladly destroy our of our wild horses and burros to keep us free seeing what his Global Warming Fraud partners are doing with our natural resources. It is amazing to me that the apparent qualification for his scientist single most outstanding achievement was his diabolical scheme to change the narrative about wild horses from “the integral members of the system of public lands where presently found,” and contributing “to the diverse life forms found in the nation” to an entirely different narrative. The horse as an invasive, non-native, pest, feral, exotic, non-indigenous species.

    Oh, and about that part of the BLM study that excluded the harmful effects of livestock grazing on public lands….well, the USDA has got that piece covered, too. There is a recently published USDA study identifying the horse as the most harmful grazing animal to plants and soil. The fix is in, folks. Since the evidence that the horse originated in North America and that Equus caballus and Equus a sinus are native despite over 20 years of claims by his chosen one that the horse is not native in any ecosystem in the United States, when the horse is the one species that survived at least 16 different ice ages and subsequent warming periods, and existed from the underwater caverns i that make up the underwater system of springs in Florida to parts of Alaska and possibly north.

    During the period when the Vikings built there settlements in Iceland and Greenland during the climate optimum period around 1,000 A. D. (and an even earlier separate settlement) there was no ice on either pole. There have been several times, including this one and another 800,000 years ago when the climate naturally warmed as the result of atmospheric forces.

    But horse lovers, be aware that the price we pay for our failure to do our own research, given the fact that Al Gore’s fraud creating, wild horse and burro eradicating, scientist has been in a prominent position to direct the scientific programs of the United States of America, there actually is an explanation about how not only U. S. science, but international governmental and non-governmental scientific contractors are not able to dispute this fraud under peril of never working.

    Yes, that’s right. Al Gore’s global warming profiteering partners want rid of our wild horses and burros. They have been scheming since the time before President Nixon’s signature had had time to dry on the Act that protected them. They tried a few things that failed, so the development of an international treaty to usurp federal law was the perfect tool. Al Gore was angry that the Senate would not vote on the bill, and he found a way to get around the Senate ratification through international law and for extra insurance E.O. 13112 created by President Clinton on Feb. 3, 1999.
    Ironically, the Gore strategy was NOT to eat horses in order not to add any value to a cultural icon the government was having a hard time eradicating without adding any more value to them.

    If we are going to stop horse slaughter and save our wild horses, we need to figure out that we have not won the battle on either front because we have been fighting the wrong wild horse enemies. When something doesn’t make sense, and none of this does, there is some scenario in which it does.


    • HoofHugs, can you give us a link to that USDA study identifying the horse as the most harmful grazing animal to plants and soil? We’d like to know the names of the people who did this study and read the entire text. Thanks


      • I can find it. When I saw that the study had been done, I was feeling so utterly disgusted with the level of fraud that has gone on through the use of implementing laws through intergovernmental agency councils, I could not stomach another bite. I forgot about it until a few days ago when someone at the barn told me that she had seen it. It wasn’t until I heard her tell me what the report concluded, that it struck me that it was important. There had been hints that the “new defamation” of wild horses and burros, now that at least two international teams with the top scientists in the world had determined that Equus caballus has been Equus lambei since sometime in the Pleistocene and caballus was a much larger species than taxonomists realized. Going on fossil evidence, you can understand how the different between a Clydesdale and an Arabian might suggest they were different species, but turns out as scientists have realized for years, that caballus is a very large species.


  2. I did not write anything that would indicate that VP Gore’s global warming fraud has anything about keeping human beings or wild horses free. If human kind wants to survive, the last species on Earth that should be destroyed is the horse. If his theories of native species in native ecosystems were true, his removal of the most native species ever to exist on this continent would surely destroy the planet rather than save it, particularly in the areas of the West in the Great Basin where hundreds of horse fossils representing millions of years of horse evolution are found. Yes, if his theory of biological invasions were true, it would actually destroy ecosystems to remove the key species that evolved there. Heck, that place might get really, really hot, deforestation, drought, wildfires, and unpredictible ecological catatrophies might occur.


  3. We have a “GLUT” of horses and we are on the lunatic fringe of mass producing more??????? AND THEY think animal rights groups are crazy, pet people nuts, and animal lovers morons……..what the HELL do they think they sound like NOW?????? They have to be snorting coke!


    • The mind boggles. This is pure evil. You cannot create a life to be used for the whims of humanity. It reminds me of GMOs also – the technology is far from ready for the public, but $$$ prove impossible to resist. Could our society really accept treating another living thing like this, in racing, for example, where genetic defects could cause serious injury and death, all to watch a race, and then dump them at a slaughterhouse when we are done? As everyone says, if there are already supposedly too many horses now, why bring more into the world? These people don’t have to make sense, do they – just be in a position to make the rules. Disgusting.


  4. Congress should say NO Freaking way! These people have left their sensibilities in the dirt! We have to stop slaughter, stop horses from killing pets, our foreign friends, lions and tigers, and NOW they want to ADD MORE Horses to the MIX! Sorry, that’s not an advancement, that is really just the Frankenstein effect!


    • It is certain that the International treaty classifying native wild horses and non-native invasives in the United States contains provisions for genetically modified and genetically engineered species. it is the provision following the horse as alien species provision. However, the fact that this an international treaty does not mean eliminate the United States as the orignin of this provision. The IUCN and Nature Conservancy alleged scientific experts are American in origin. Their partnership with FWS as far back as the mid-70’s in this scheme to defraud America is part of the narrative. However, the first attempts at undoing the protection of the wild horse and burro act other than the still inclusive 1976 Federal Land Management Plan Act appears in 1977 perhaps coincidentally after Vice-President Gore is elected to the House of Representatives in 1976. What we have to understand is that these people were determined and patient. When one strategy failed for whatever reason, they went back to the drawing board. FLMPA weakened the 1971 WFRHB Act, but it did not eliminate it or the purpose for which it was intended. The first place where this is clearly part of the attempt, is in the description of attempts to get “alien species” eliminated through exectutive order during President Carter’s term. Although President Carter created the Exotic Species Act, the provisions in the Act specifically prevented already well-established species in the United States from being listed. The author of the document that includes this in its history describes this decision in a tone that implies disappointment because it would not eliminate those harmful, non-indigenous species already here. This clearly indicates that the author of the piece was familiar with the non-specified groups other than FWS behind attempts to eliminate the wild horses.

      Furthermore, Congress should consider making it a felony for elected, appointed, or contractual personnel to defraud the government. The only name on President Clinton’s first sustainability council now behind bars is Ken Lay of Enron. These are the people who advised the President. This is the quality of character who was appointed to represent stakeholders, someone who would defraud everyone in his company of their hard earned retirement savings leaving them with absolutely nothing. if this is your idea of who you want expressing your voice through an advisory council rather than you talking with your representative or senator and using, at the very least, your vote to vote up or down, the effect of this is that only appointed bureaucrats and appointed citizens get to have a say in these decisions.


  5. Something else that may be informative now that Debbie has brought up this topic, but during the previous election cycle, there was an attempt to libel Ann Romney (her guilt or innocence is not the point0 through alleging that she knowingly sold a drugged up, lame horse. The headlines were taken from an oppinion that a veterinarian included in a deposition. #1 Two of the drugs are drugs my vets have used on either my horses or a wild horse I sponsored through our rescue league for sedation to undergo having their teeth floated or hind feet trimmed. It is just safer for the horse, the veterinarian, and the handler if you now a head-shy horse, or a horse that still hasn’t gotten over BLM, FWS, NPS, or FS trauma to sedate the horse. During the time that the horse is sedated, they are still able to stand, but may sway. But the time doesn’t last two hours, if that. The third drug was a derivative of phenolbutazone, and the fourth drug that turned up at trace amounts, not part of the vet record is one of the more recently developed drugs that is used to treat both pain and inflammation. All of these drugs are legal and commonly used in veterinary practice. However, the last drug was an issue, but without knowing the important piece which is how long in advance the pre-purchase exam had been scheduled, nothing happened in this case that does not happen in horse barns across the country. But to get this slam in to discredit Mrs. Romney, the attorney had to go from CA to FL to find the vet, who chose to release his deposition to the public.

    Want to know what his veterinary practice does that not many veterinary practices do? They serve as an export/import quarantine. Among their advertised stars in a South American cloned pony that is supposed to be a dead ringer for his father. Cloned horses are perfectly legal for use in performance based sports like cutting, polo, and (eventing). An even bigger business than cloning is the use of follicle stimulating drugs for female horses in order to employ equine assistive reproductive technology. This makes it possible that surrogates or recipient mares as they are referred to can carry multiple progeny to full term.

    Debbie, as usual, is right on target.


  6. When I used the adjective diabolical, understand that I did not use any other terms other than the language which appeared foreign to the 1971 Wild, Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act to see whether or not the language that was no longer limited by use by Fish Wildlife Service, I decided to see what came up if I combined the terms the BLM did not include on its web site when I first began visiting it periodically. What appeared was the Alien Species Act issued by President Clinton through Executive Order 13112, but there were other references in the federal register regarding The Nature Conservancy and FWS successful partnership to eliminate non-native, invasive, grazing and only occasionally species specific (i. e. sheep) herbivores on an island that was or was previously owned by the Department of Denfence off the California Coast possibly as early as 1996. Whether or not horses were among the species actually eliminated of simply mentioned as a species that would be considered a non-native, invasive, native plant destroying (native plant destroying is part of the alleged harm horses do to the environment) I do not know, but because the language appeared in the federal register prior to President Clinton’s creation of the Act, I looked for something that might explain how the bit about horses was written into federal policy, the who, when, why, where, how of it all.

    I have not yet found a place in our public laws as voted on and approved by Congress include a legal or policy declaration of the horse and burro as non-native, invasive, feral, exotic, pests. In fact, in places where this language appears it has been ridiculed members that have had to listen to it. There are other laws regarding alien species passed by Congress, but there is no legislation where the horse referred to non-native, invasive, alien, exotic, pests that also include the word alien with respect to Congressional Action. There was not even a suggestion in Congress that our wild horses are now considered alien was even debated or even discussed in Congress with regard as these words being relative to any statutory based efforts based on federal legislation. The ability of administrations to sign international treaties to implement laws that are part of their personal agenda and would not be passed by Congress gets past the mechanism that requires that there be existing U. S. law in place in order for President’s to create Executive Orders regarding their implementation. In other words, before President Clinton could effectively nullify the Senate’s failure to vote on ratification of 1992 Convention for Biological Diversity, the pieces of the international treaty he wanted to implement had to be on the books somewhere. Although currently listed on the USDA’s site as U.S. law tellingly placed before U.S. federal, state, or local law, I do not know if this is part of a reorganization of information that seems to have occurred during the last months of Salazar’s term across several federal agencies, in particular, the National Park Service’s role of teaching the public about the government’s version of global warming and sustainability science.


  7. I believe in global warming – whether humans or responsible for all or part of it is not as clear, but – to me at least, the warming, the extreme and unpredictable weather that has been increasing for years, melting ice caps, etc. There is nothing new about climate change. There have been many. With or without humans, the climate can and WILL change and I think we are in the midst of one of those changes.

    I’ve read the science – NOT Al Gore! – and have come to that conclusion. Al Gore? It was his bright idea to make ethanol from CORN. What an idiotic thing to do.


  8. Allowing cloned horses in, especially for breeding is a horrible idea! We don’t know enough of the long term effects to the animals yet, let alone what might be passed on. Wasn’t it that popular stallion Impressive that passed on a gene that led to a whole generation of animals with a fatal gene abnormality? I don’t recall all the details, but my point is even with normal breeding situations sometimes you don’t know the effects and mutations that can occur. And cloning is anything but normal. Who knows whether there would be changes we don’t expect?
    And that isn’t even touching on the ‘supposed’ unwanted horses we already have (as if there would be any such thing. There are those of us that can’t afford them, but we sure would want them!)


  9. You know a perk to this article is that the AQHA will lose registrations, documents they charge for and the top peoples horses could be cloned and used to BEAT them. Funny how 86 percent of AQHA is against cloning but the are for slaughtering, does that redefine the entire organization to be in line with blmcorruption tacticts? » its actually identical, blm encourages cattle, stands against wild horses and is set to slaughter, these are NOT organizations for and representing the horse these are criminal activists disguised as welfare and professionalism. Their rhetoric is simple, its our decision, butt out! We are the people for whom the constitution was written that saves us from tyranny. We need to use the constitution and reform the horse industry, there is such a thing as sueing to dissassemble large organizations that have take. A corner on the market and overpowered everyone else, thats how they broke down giants in the past that monopolized so we need to legally regroup and concert effors towards disbanding monopolies ruining Americas horses. Horses were Not commodities and now are treated simply as such. So we need to have competitive registries handling the aqha and get rid of their antiquated ideals and have the bureau of land management disbanded and a committee formed which overseas the horses, all current employees, helpers volunteers need to be assessed to see if they are pro mustang if not removed. These organizations fight for the right to play checkers with horses. It needs to be stopped. So lets go for taking out,the infrastructure of the blm and get congress an approved board and a plan to care with the funding they provide to the blm, we can market ways to make money to keep going into the horses budget. The bureau just drains money, the government will look at ideas to make the agency propsperous with new people who care about the horses, if you present it soon. We cant beat up the indigenous specious garbage cause the blm uses that to distract you from real ideas that can save the horse, quit chasing the bigger horses tail, put yourself in front of the bull, present a plan, wavr.the red flag, step aside, the blm crashes on top of ol worn out played out aqha and we ridride


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