Horse cloning coming down the stretch


AQHA will not register cloned horses. As the science of cloning progresses, all equine sports will need to make the decision of whether or not horse cloning should be allowed. Cloning does not create a ?better horse” or so it seems obvious to me… ~ HfH

By:J. Israel Balderas

Prometea and her cloned duaghter.

Prometea and her cloned duaghter.

WELLINGTON, Fla. – They are allowed in Olympic competition and polo fields.

But cloned horses cannot be registered through the thoroughbred and quarter horse associations.

Beyond the expense of bringing an animal to life in a lab – will science change the way we see cloned horses in their various sports?

“All my horses are all taught to like people,” said Scott Swerdlin, President and veterinarian at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

Swerdlin has been taken care of horses all of his life. As he puts it, there are 11 of his children always waiting for him at the stables.

“It is very personal,” said Swerdlin, “they’re your family,” and each with a distinct personality.

“She’s in the twilight of her career,” said Swerdlin, referring to one of the horses, “and she’s just a sweet mare. But when she gets on the polo field, she is so competitive.”

If Swerdlin wanted to have that identical drive in another horse, the mare could now be cloned, at a cost of around $150,000.

“It’s a great opportunity if you miss that particular line of breeding to come back and catch that line of breeding.”

Over the weekend, an Argentine polo player named Adolfo Cambiaso won a championship match in his country riding a cloned horse.

But the idea of creating a genetic duplicate creates mixed emotions.

Beyond the risks of efficiency, there’s the perception of unfair advantage.

The American Quarter Horse Association, involved in a lawsuit over registering cloned horses, says it only accepts horses resulting from the breeding of a mother and a father.

“I don’t think the horses are going to be exactly like it,” said Swerdlin. “I think there’s going to be a little bit of variable.”

That variable would be personality.

Swerdlin breeds horses through embryo transfer, a practice he said is accepted by AQHA, but not the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

While cloning is in its infancy, Swerdlin doesn’t believe the practice will change the individual beauty of a horse.

“I think they’re more interested in cookies and treats then they are in running around here,” said Swerdlin, as he described the horses’ personality.
A judge recently ruled that the American Quarter Horse Association is not required to register cloned horse, for now.

AQHA is appealing an earlier decision that found the breed body had to do it under state and federal anti-trust laws.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
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