Equine cloning has been a major topic in the equine industry for the last sixteen years when the World’s first cloned Equus caballus (horse) was born in 2003. In the last twenty-two years, the first ever cloned animal was of “Dolly” the Ovis aries (sheep), which was born in 1996 at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. In recent years, cloned quarter and thoroughbred horses have been banned from equine associations such as the American Quarter Horse Association which has not allowed any cloned horses to be able to register with the association since 2004 and the Jockey Club which has not allowed any cloned thoroughbred horses to race.
In order for a thoroughbred to compete in horse racing, the offspring must be the direct result from the breeding of a sire and dam to be eligible for registration with the Jockey Club. This breeding includes live cover, artificial insemination, and embryo transfers to qualify to register in any other registry. Breeding high quality performance horses to produce high-quality foals as well as improving the genetic potential of the progeny line.
Equine cloning is one of the newest ways of assisted reproductive methods of producing a foal for preserving top of the line genetics from the original dam from nuclear transferred embryotic cells. (Mastromonaco, G. 2007) The problem with cloning the equine, the breeder is not improving the genetic line of the superior dam, they are only getting the same genetic copy of the horse that was originally cloned. Farmer’s and equine breeders have traditionally bred a mare and a stallion by live cover, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer.
Although there can be risks to go along with breeding by live cover, where the stallion can injury himself when mounting the mare and the stallion or mare may refuse to be bred to each other. (FDA, 2018). Cloning has been done with livestock as well as dogs, sheep, and cats. People clone animals for a number of reasons, cloning family pets such as dogs, have been done if the animal has passed away, it gives owners the chance to have an exact copy of the family pet they had before, cloning livestock has been done as another food source, to get more quality meat. Cloned horses have been excelling and winning in rodeo events very well compared to non-cloned horses. The American Quarter Horse Association has banned quarter horse clones from being able to register since 2004, one lawsuit over a quarter horse’s clone named Lynx Melody Too could change the rules on the banning of cloned horse’s and how other equine registries may respond. The lawsuit states that Jason Abraham the owner of the mare named Lynx Melody and Gregg Veneklasen the veterinarian that cloned Lynx Melody requested to have the cloned foal included into the American Quarter Horse Association registry.
(Lynx Melody Too – cloned quarter horse foal) https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-cloned-horses-20150314-story.html
If equine registries and canine registries will not allow cloned horses or dogs to be able to join their registry. The cloned animals should have their own registry where they can compete in other equine and canine events or events done by that registry. Other debates about whether cloned animals should be registered or non-registered is still in the works and it is unknown at this time on whether or not these cloned animals can have their own registry to be a part of.
Equine clone efficiency has remained low because not enough research has been done yet, to improve the cloning rates, methods such as embryo aggregation and cloning more of the equine species will have better results in the near future.
Cloning can be defined as a new way to preserve embryos from the genetic traits obtained from top performing mares that have been proven money-winners. Cloned foals do not have sires, the cloned embryo comes from the living or deceased mare of choice from farmer’s or equine breeders. The process of cloning can be difficult to understand to some individuals. The process of cloning can be described as removing cloned embryotic cells from a donor mare and injecting Oocytes into the cell to activate the development of fertilization to take place then this allows for blastocyst to start and then the embryo is placed into the recipient mare directly into the uterus or it may be surgically placed into the mare by a veterinarian. The cloned embryo is expected to possess the same characteristics as the donor mare preserves. There have been some issues by using these methods of cloning that are still being researched today. Some of the problems that have occurred have been that the cloned foals have not survived to the parturition stage which is commonly known as the process of birthing. This has caused the low efficiency rate in these cloned embryos because not enough research has been done in the equine for cloning. Other issues that have been brought up are the risks of diseases from importing cloned embryotic cells to the United States from other surrounding countries, could risk diseases such as Equine Infectious Anemia virus to break ground on United States soil. The Equine Infectious Virus is fatal to a horse it would have to be quarantined away from other animals to reduce the spread of the disease to other animals. Unfortunately, mostly all the animal that catch this disease will have to be euthanized because there is no form of treatment for this disease. (Asseged D. B, et al, 2011). Another issue with cloned embryotic cells are retrieving the cells from nuclear transfer that have been poorly developed in vitro in the blastocysts, new research is being completed to fix these issues to establish better parturition rates and having live foals that do not have any form of abnormalities. Some of the research that is being done is determining ways to restart the stem cells of the genes from the donor mare to produce a viable foal.
Equine cloning is one of the newest methods of producing a viable cloned foal from a cloned embryotic cell. (Hinrichs, K. 2006). This is done by nuclear transfer in somatic cells of the donor mare. Oocytes are obtained from the mare from the mature ovaries and then placed into a recipient mare after the blastocysts are ready. Typically, the collection of these Oocytes are taken from slaughter horses or of a live mare that is mature in age. (Choi, Ho-Young, et al. 2013). These procedures are typically done during the breeding season. Once it is around time to give birth these cloned foals are carefully watched over until a live foal is on the ground. If the mare shows signs of having complications giving birth, otherwise known as dystocia, a veterinarian would need to be there to help the broodmare give birth. Equine clones are allowed to participate in events such as rodeo, reining, jumping and dressage. However, these cloned animals are not allowed to be able to apply to register with any equine registry, this has been banned since 2004. In order for a horse to qualify for registration, the horse must be the progeny of a sire and a dam, in cloning there is no sire involved in the process. If breeders wanted to breed a cloned mare the offspring would be completely different from the recipient mare due to the amount of mitochondrial DNA present. Even though research is still being completed, the equine industry hasn’t shown much interest in equine cloning.
The connection between a horse owner and their horse is something special. Especially when your animal is a winner in the show ring. Equine cloning allows for horse owners to reproduce a genetic copy of the animal they have once cared so much for. If this animal has won in the show pen or is on the verge of death, the horse owner has a choice of choosing to produce a cloned foal from the money-producing mare. This type of assisted reproductive technique has allowed horse owners to receive an identical copy of the broodmare and continue to have that same copy of genetics down the pedigree line that would be a great asset to their breeding program. This scientific research paper was used to produce informative information about equine cloning in the American Quarter horse and describe the meaning, process, and understanding of what type of procedures are done to ensure that the cloning process is done correctly. Equine cloning is still currently being researched on today because there is still a lot to learn about the aggregation of cloned embryos to ensure that all progeny come out alive and healthy. Other risk factors have played a significant role in determining if equine cloning is the next big money chain for breeders and farmers.