Jury Rules Against AQHA for Barring Cloned Horses

by | 07.30.2013 | 3:27pm

A federal jury ruled Tuesday that an American Quarter Horse Association committee and AQHA officials violated antitrust laws by banning cloned horses from the AQHA registry.

However, jurors awarded no damages to the plaintiffs, a Texas rancher and a veterinarian who own the horses.

The AQHA had argued it had the right to set its own reasonable rules and that most members opposed cloning.

An attorney for the plaintiffs said they hope the AQHA will allow the registration of their cloned horses without further court action.

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

“When individuals with shared interests, goals and values come together to form a voluntary association to serve a common purpose, the members have a right to determine the rules for their association. The wisdom of our membership – which is largely not in favor of the registration of clones and their offspring – has not been upheld by this verdict,” Treadway said.

“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” said AQHA President Johne Dobbs.

Other breed registries have been following the trial with great interest, although James Gagliano, president and CEO of The Jockey Club said the jury decision will have no impact on Thoroughbred registration.

“The facts involved in the AQHA case are very different from those applicable to the registration of Thoroughbreds and the decision in that case has no bearing on the rules for registering Thoroughbreds,” said Gagliano. “The Jockey Club, as an organization dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred racing and breeding, believes that the short- and long-term welfare of the sport of Thoroughbred racing and the Thoroughbred breed are best served by the current rules.”

Read more at the Amarillo Globe-News

  • Debbie Schauf

    VERY SAD DAY FOR ALL BREED REGISTRIES……HOPE AQHA WILL APPEAL!!! I think the jury totally missed the mark on this issue. While AQHA doesn’t have the right to prevent cloning, every breed registry should have to right to have/establish criteria for participation and you can choose whether or not you want to participate by following or ignoring the rules!!! Let the Cloners start their own registry and fund their own events/ member benefits, etc!!

  • cgriff

    Well – they opened the door on their own troubles by allowing AI and then – in some way I’d imagine – diminishing the plaintiff’s livelihood/product by not allowing a cloned horse in the registry. The Jockey Club has protected themselves from this by staying with good old fashioned live cover breeding. I’m not for allowing cloned horses to be registered – but I can see how the jury arrived at the conclusion. I’d suspect that the AQHA will appeal the jury verdict.

    • Kathy Agel

      How can you compare AI to cloning? They’re two completely different processes — allowing one doesn’t mean the other should be allowed.

      • cgriff

        Because they took a natural cover process and put it into the medical/lab field in order to breed on the cheap and allow on stallion to breed to hundreds of mares. The minute they took it to the lab via AI – it becomes harder to argue “if you can use medical science to breed to hundreds, why can’t the next logical step be cloning. It’s a slippery slope unless you are really rigid about keeping it to the natural basics. It cracks the door open. But I think AQHA will appeal under the right of free association and setting their own rules for their own private organization. Problem with that is – unlike the Boy Scouts, for instance – the AQHA is as much business as organization. A horse cannot retain value for sale at top level if it’s not registered. That’s where the anti-trust laws got introduced – the plaintiffs were saying that the AQHA was utilizing a monopoly to prevent them from realizing any value from something that is a medical process to create a horse. AI is a medical process to create a horse. Hence the slippery slope.

        • Kathy Agel

          There’s a difference of degree — AI can be done in a barn, while cloning requires a full-blown lab. It’s like comparing a Lamborghini to a bicycle.

          • cgriff

            I didn’t say they were the same – but it cracked the door open to medical procedure in the breeding game. I believe that the issue would have ever gone to court if AQHA had been satisfied with live cover breeding only. But it diminishes profits for breeders who can take one stallion’s product and sell it to literally hundreds of owners of mares to be bred. If I was a juror, and the only thing AQHA came up with is that they chose not to allow clones – the result of a medical process, but allowed another “unatural” way of creating more Quarter Horses via AI, I’d be hard pressed not to say that they were offering contradictory requirements. And it if causes a plaintiff to lose value in a product? That’s business- the AQHA – in theory – was stopping the plaintiff from selling a product at full value and the plaintiff had no other representative of the Quarter Horse industry to go to to be registered. AQHA is the only game in town.

            I think your comparison of a Lamborghini to a bicyle is actually supporting my thought. AI = the bicycle. Cloning the Lamborghini. Worlds apart in the process to create both – but both have wheels and are constructive to drive/transport. While they are not at all alike – they share common origins. I’m honestly not a supporter of cloning in any way – but I do see how the jury could have arrived at the decision. And I doubt anyone on that jury is a horseman with the passion for a breed’s integrity – they just got the basics.

            It will be appealed – but it shows great foresight on the part of the Jockey Club to never crack open that medical practice door with AI.

          • reality check

            The JC will be in the same place as AQHA when someone with enough money forces the issue. It is a matter of the members going along with the status quo that keeps it out of the JC at this time. AI can be done onsite. I think the more correct term you are trying to get to is shipped semen. In either case, there is no need for “medical” involvement. That is a choice made by those involved. Any trained lay person can collect and ship semen just as any mare owner can inseminate their own mare if they choose. I’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers but on the show horse side, very, very few studs are breeding more than 30 or 40 mares a year. Shipped semen allows mare owners access to stallions at a more affordable rate in that transportation and boarding are not involved. Again the issue at hand with ET and any other breeding procedure comes back to interstate commerce and infringement of income, not medical procedures.

          • Really? 40 mares. Have you heard Smart Chic Olena? Do you really think he only bred 40 mares a year?

          • reality check

            SCO died last year. No, he was not breeding close to 200 mares northern hemisphere and then another 200 southern hemisphere like some TB stallions…. And just as those TB stallions do not speak for the TB stallions as a whole, neither does SCO. So yes, I do stand by that number. I’m actively involved in the stockhorse world, are you?

          • I didn’t say he was alive and I didn’t say he bred 400 mares. I said he bred more than 40 a year. And history will prove that to be correct.

          • reality check

            Please re-read the post – I said VERY, VERY few studs are breeding more than 40 per year…. which is certainly a whole LOT less than some shuttling stallions whose numbers are staggering.

          • And I agree with you. My point was that AQHA breeders overbreed to a handful of stallions. That is why they have so many genetic disorders. There is very little diversity. Allowing shipped semen and surrogacy only exacerbates the problem. That was my point – live cover makes for a healthier breed.

          • reality check

            Well not necessarily. The popular horses will get the majority of the mares, regardless of how the “stuff” gets into the mares. Look at the number on the Mares Bred Reports for studs in KY versus the vast majority of other states. Inbreeding is very heavy in the TBs as well. I feel very sure there are plenty of disorders in the TBs that have not been “outed” so to speak as they have in QHs. In QH (Paint, insert stock horse breed here), it’s the MEMBERS who push the association to find out what is wrong. After all this research, a common problem in TBs – Monday Morning Sickness/Azoturia – is linked to EPSM/PSSM which is seen in QHs.
            Many stock horse breed stallion owners are now fully testing and disclosing all results from known carrier disorders. That’s best and fastest way to get a healthier breed. The vast majority of mare owners will opt NOT to breed to the positive studs.

          • I just looked it up. Smart Chic Olena sired 896 performers. Some breedings probably didn’t result in live foals, and all foals probably did not become performers. Alydar, one of the most overbed TB’s, sired 706 foals in 11 years at stud of which 520 made it to the races. Not that huge a difference, even considering Alydar was not at stud as long.

          • reality check

            And in 5 years, how many will some of the popular, shuttled TB stallions breed? And that’s based on the Mares Bred Report… which may or may not contain all the mares. SCO was 27 when he died. Let’s say he was started breeding mares at the age of 3 – that’s more than double the number of years Alydar stood. That’s 38.95 mares per year over a 23 year period. Sure he bred a whole lot more than that some years. But you have to recognize, if you have knowledge of the stock horse world, that the cutters spend more than the rest. So in all likelihood, he’d have achieved those or very close to those numbers live cover.

          • First I’d like to say I confused Smart Chic Olena with his sire Smart Little Lena who sired over 1800 foals. But Smart CO competed at least until age 8, so was most likely not covering many mares. And you cannot just count performers, you have to assume a certain amount of foal loss, breedings that didn’t take, and how many horses did NOT become performers. So your numbers are way off.

          • reality check

            Maureen I used the numbers YOU provided. So if MY numbers are off it’s because you provided incorrect information. It is very normal for studs to be shown during the breeding season. AGAIN, SCO is not the average horse, so his numbers will be higher. The avg QH/Paint/App/Bucky/Paly stud is not going to see anywhere near those numbers.

          • Don Reed

            Barn = bicycle; cloning lab = Lamborghini. Ergo, s/be “comparing a bicycle to a Lamborghini” (the reverse of the above).

            Good point, nonetheless.

        • Exactly.

        • And AQHA further opened the door when they wrote the rule allowing a single mare to have 5 foals registered per year, via surrogacy, which cannot be done “in a barn.” They wanted to be on the cutting edge, and now it’s cutting back.

          • jrstark

            They were forced into that. It was originally one foal per mare per year, but someone took them to court and they lost because scientifically there was no difference between the first foal and others. I was going to ask if they had ever appealed that ruling, but I guess they either didn’t or they lost.

          • That’s interesting – but still they opened the door to using science to produce foals. That’s why people need to be careful about opening doors. In these days of mad science who knows what will be next?

          • I will say that if the AQHA was smart (debatable) they would now immediately create classes for cloned horses only and “non-cloned” horses only. That will discourage people from cloning. The APHA has managed to do that with colored vs “breeding stock” paints (those with no spots.)

          • reality check

            How does that discourage people? Solids happen with Paints just as spots happen on solid QHs. Even a homozygous tobi can be a slippied tobi that is a “solid” in appearance but genetically a tobiano. APHA offers a full range of classes for the solids now. They are starting to get shown on a more regular basis. After years of the old school crew telling people the solids were literally worthless, it takes a while to get things rolling. However, that is happening.

          • It will discourage people. The solid classes at Paint shows are not where glory is to be had. Those who spend a fortune to clone a horse want to win where the original horse won, not in what they would consider a second-class arena. And really? How many cloned horses do you think there will be? Classes of 1? A class with 2 horses?

          • reality check

            Glory is in the eye of the owner and the check writer. I show Paints, do you? I am absolutely against cloning but when the INDIVIDUALS sue the association to allow it, you don’t get to blame the association. Same with ET.

          • Yes it is! That is my point. I do not show Paints, but I do have Paint and a breeding stock Paint. I blame the organization for promoting breeding as much as they did, until fairly recently. And to allow surrogacy without considering the long-term ramifications. As it turns out it is possible – and does happen – that the surrogate mother can influence the embryo she is carrying. Nature is a powerful force and perhaps more research needs to be done before people continue on the cloning path.

            “There is evidence that the metabolism of the mother will influence the epigenetic program of the child; diet being one of the determinants. It has also been suggested that epigenetic changes may influence behavior. Thus, it is indeed possible for the surrogate mother’s epigenetic state to influence the epigenetic information of the children”

          • reality check

            The solids really aren’t a product of promoting the breed. The current number of solids is a direct correlation to the trend toward minimal overos…. which is probably caused by people similar to me who drifted over from QH. However, I chose the tobi route. If you’re gonna go there, go there!
            ET is very successful in show horses in the stock breeds. In most cases, it’s someone that’s showing a good mare that wants to continue to show her. So one or two is the normal in that deal. Its also far more economical than cloning. I’m not sure where the $40k number quoted elsewhere came from but when I spoke with the folks that cloned Scamper and Sapphire, the cost was six figures. VERY few will be able to do that. Again, I am absolutely against cloning.
            At the end of the day, an association should be allowed to make their own rules, which you accept as is when you join. If you don’t agree with them, then don’t renew. But in our lawsuit happy society, that day is gone.

          • I agree, last I heard cloning could be done for $100K. And I totally agree that an organization has the right to set it’s own rules and regulations and penalties. I don’t understand why courts don’t support that. It makes you lose hope for the future, when a few people who agreed to the rules, whine and then get their way. It’s very sad and ver discouraging.

          • reality check

            Agreed….. and what makes it worse in my book, the ones who filed these lawsuits had already done the crime, so to speak, before they filed the lawsuits. In the ET case, there were multiples out a famous mare. They KNEW at least one of these horses would NOT be registerable when they did it. So why do it? Oh because now we can sue and get what we want. SMH This whole thing is a sad indicator of our culture at large. The loss is on the antitrust side which really is geared toward stocks/buildings/products, etc., not live animals. Until something is done to make that a different area, we’re all in a mess.

          • reality check

            They did not appeal. They actually lost on infringement of income and interference in interstate commerce if I remember correctly. In both ET and now cloning, it’s because of the actions of a few individuals, yet the association itself is being blamed. Funny, pretty sure the Saddlebreds were allowing TCS and ET before the AQHA.

          • cgriff

            Yup – totally biting them in the butt, as it were. And I might add that – with horse populations so high the ability to keep and care for animals past their prime or abandoned, the last thing we actually need is a way to speed and multiply the numbers of a breed through AI or surrogacy. The elephant in the room of the US is that we have way more horses than people are willing to care for – in every breed and in the wild. And now slaughterhouses are being put back into play. Do we really need to breed artificially when we can’t find homes for the ones we have? Just a postscript.

          • NoManNo

            I agree with all these points about AQHA registry issues. If you notice, they do not publish the number of horse registered. They did one time a few years ago and one year’s registration was in excess of 100,000. They tried to justify those numbers by stating that there were older horses included in that number. That’s hardly an excuse. They over breed in my opinion. And that has to equate with more QHs going to slaughter. Great breed diluted by bad management.

          • I remembered that exact thing – over 100,000 and tried to look it up a couple years ago. They don’t publish the number anymore, but then they were proud of it. They PUSH breeding. Doesn’t take a genius to to the math 100,000 X $50 or $100. AQHA is all about money.

          • reality check

            ALL registries are about the money generated via registration, transfer and membership fees. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that’s an AQHA thing. Without those monies, the associations do not exist.

          • The Jockey Club is not all about money. Registration fees are reasonable and they do not charge transfer fees. Unlike other breed organizations, the Jockey Club has always been concerned with other things, including the welfare of the horse. They do studies on track surfaces, injuries, shoeing, etc. They have not fallen into the AI mistake – which allows a handful of stallions to dominate the breed. As breed registries go, I believe they have integrity and are about the money.


          • reality check

            You are mistaken. It takes money to run registries of any breed of any animal or anything. Again the proper term you guys are looking for is SHIPPED SEMEN not AI. AI goes on every TB breeding shed, it’s just called by another name, semantics, period. There is no handful of stallions that has dominated the breed since shipped semen has been allowed. The days of dominate horses like, let’s say, Impressive or Poco Bueno, were during LIVE COVER days, not shipped semen. If you think the JC is all about the welfare, etc., you must be new is all I can say. The JC in and of itself is not set up as an association in the manner that most are… if they were this conversation would be over. Do you as a “member” get to vote on a representive(s) for your state? No. Do you get to attend an annual convention? No. It is NOT the associations/registries that chose this path. It is the individuals in those associations/registries. As for studies and so forth, the JC hardly holds the trump card on that. The AQHA has donated enormous amounts of money to research/studies/etc. None of these association/registries is any better than the rest. As for the transfers, I don’t think not keeping track of that is a good thing – your own registry does not keep a chain of ownership for the horses. At least if a QH/Paint/Arabian/Palomino/Buckskin/Pinto/etc. calls and association/registry to verify an ownership, they can get an answer. The JC is the only association/registry that does not.

          • Clearly you’re a fan of APHA and that’s fine. But I don’t compare them to the Jockey Club. And you can go online to the Jockey Club and record your ownership of a horse. For free – not for a fee. Which is why many people do not change the ownership of a Paint if they do not want to show.

          • reality check

            No I’m not a fan of the association, I’m a fan of the horse. What I’ve presented to you is fact based, not emotional based. $30 to officially record ownership for a member… now you’re up to $60… you’re still not in the ballpark of the registration fee on TBs. If you’re going to take shots against other registries, you have to put JC in with the rest of them.

          • First it’s not that simple. You must be a member of the APHA to register a horse for a reduced fee. If you are not a member it will cost you $100 to register a horse younger than 1 year old. TB is $200. But with TB you do not have to pay transfer fee. Both associations charge more the older the horse gets. Why anyone would not register asap is beyond me.

          • reality check

            Actually it is that simple and membership in AQ or AP is $40/year. So you’re at $70, toss in a transfer and still at half. There is also no naming fee. I don’t get why people don’t register either. Makes zero sense. Even if the papers aren’t important to that particular owner, it might be to another owner down the road.

          • reality check

            Not exactly. That was another case of forced to allow via a lawsuit. The original ruling was carry one, transfer one. After they lost that lawsuit, they were forced to open it up.

  • Kathy Agel

    The jurors have no clue. None at all.

  • Richard C

    I can see it now — The Clone Futurity……..this ruling – though the appeal’s process will keep the issue bounding around the legal system for some time – opens a possible Pandora’s Box for the other racing breeds.

    • I think people will be disappointed with cloning, except for those only interested in looks. Be it a horse or dog or whatever, the animal will not be the same personality. It will not necessarily perform as the original did, or be loving or whatever. It will be interesting if someone has/is cloning a successful QH racehorse.

  • Beach

    It can be inconvenient, especially if you might like to breed with overseas stallions or mares, but this is why I like “natural cover” much better, and you let horses be horses, largely(ie, it’s not a breeding shed in the wild) instead of humans playing scientist conduit or even “mad scientist”. Ugh…

  • Don Reed

    First, Frank Stronach clones dozens of replaceable (instantly) executives for his racing operations, and now this.

    • TJS

      What does this have to do with the issue at hand? Get a life boy

      • Don Reed

        If your “life” is the Quarters, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • oktahahorses

    I think if this is allowed to stand, I would like to see any advertisement of a cloned horse contain some sort of notice box in the ad that the horse being advertised is a cloned horse and not the original. I also this their would need to be a prominent notice somewhere on the registration papers.

  • Dobeplayer

    Very scary – not just for AQHA, but breed registries across the board. I have dogs as well as horses and I think cloning could be a nightmare for AKC. I believe in other species where researchers have successfully cloned animals, the clones are not the “same” as the original even though the DNA is duplicated. Or maybe I’m just too far out of the scientific loop. I’m even uncomfortable with multiple foals from a single mare in a year through embryo transfers. Just because we have the scientific knowledge of HOW to do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it. JMO

  • juleswins3

    Even if the costs of cloning drop (currently about $40,000 last I heard), it’s not likely to become common place. I’m sure the AQHA will designate on the registration papers the horse is a clone of “So & So” and it will be up to the public to decide whether or not they want any offspring from the clone. Don’t look anytime soon for cloning to become as common as embryo transfer or artificial insemination.

  • turftoe

    As I recall, Joe Lewis had several brothers.
    there was one world champion……………………

  • turftoe

    Another thought…….This multi-embro crap that the AQHA OKed ain’t working out so well in the sales ring or on the racetrack.Take it from a breeder whose been doin this for many years
    having bred several champion runners and many stakes winners.I lament the days haulin mares to stallions with my wife from AZ to TX. We used to call it eating across Texas. We got to know every BBQ joint along the way and layed over at many hospital ranches along the way.
    Just sayin

    • reality check

      There’s plenty of success on the show ring side.

  • rachel

    If in order to register a foal you need a sire and a dam’s registration numbers….exactly how does a cloned animal meet that requirement?

    • In theory the horse would already be registered right? Since it’s the “same” horse? However, even if not considered registered, “parents” would be the same?

  • Ed Brockman

    I am not in favor of factory produced horses of any breed. A similar situation will quite likely present itself to the Thoroughbred industry? Those within the breed could possibly cause it to be a short lived situation if they would refuse to buy or breed to those produced in this manner.
    If the court is to force this (more big government bs), then the breed registries would be well advised to create an additional flag on the pedigree number identifying the horse as being a cloned animal.

    • Guest

      I don’t think so Mr. Brockman. Believe it or not those in the Thoroughbred industry have more respect for horses than other breeds.

  • That’s very interesting! I wondered, because even though the DNA is the same, some genes must be “turned on”. So theoretically there is no reason why the clone would be totally identical.

  • Mimi Hunter

    This was a few days ago and therefore ‘old’, but I still have to comment. I think the ruling is out of line, and I hope AQHA appeals. One of the horses involved is a gelding and they want to register the clone’s offspring. They used to be strict about registering ridglings ungelded. Now, if this holds, it looks like the horse doesn’t need to have any. But I think the AQHA opened the door on this by allowing surrogates and AI.

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