The Tuesday, May 4th edition of The Washington Post featured an article about the cloning of horses. Writer Stephen Hudak interviewed long-time Quarter Horse breeder, Carol Harris, who is now 86, and owner of Bo-Bett Farm in Florida.
By now everyone is familiar with the first cloned animal, a sheep named Dolly, born in 1996, and deceased in 2003, when she was euthanized, at the age of six, with severe arthritis and lung cancer.
According to the article in The Post, there are about 65 equine clones now in existence, with 50 of them produced by the Texas company ViaGen, a cloning center which is expecting another 50 equine births in 2010.
While most major breed associations do not allow the registration of cloning, it\’s troubling nonetheless, to many in the horse industry. Particularly, when in some sports, such as barrel racing, whether an animal is registered or not, may be somewhat secondary, as in the case of Charmayne Jame\’s clone of her extraordinary barrel gelding, Scamper.
Since Scamper was a virtual unknown, and a further, a gelding, there was no hope of breeding another like him. So James decided to clone the horse in the hopes of continuing his bloodline for the sport of barrel racing. The successful clone, Clayton now stands to the public for a fee of $4,000 U.S.
Harris isn\’t a big proponent of cloning and unabashedly states her view in the article, concluding horse people get into cloning because they \”smell money\” and are \”looking for a shortcut to a great horse.\”
Cloning will likely continue to be an interesting debate in the horse industry. Harris\’ viewpoint is black and white: “Breeding is an art. Cloning is a replication.”
Others, like James, have an each-to-his-own viewpoint, and do not see a disservice to the industry or equine world in the matter of cloning.
So, internet world, where do you stand?