Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture
American Quarter Horse Association
Fifth Circuit Judgement (January 14, 2015)
It is AQHA's position that when people with shared interests, goals and values come together to form a voluntary private association to serve a common purpose, the members have a right to determine the rules for their association.
Setting rules around registering American Quarter Horses and defining the American Quarter Horse breed is key to what AQHA does.
AQHA registration rules have always required that only horses resulting from the breeding of a mother and a father (the joining of an egg and a sperm) are eligible for registration.
Cloning involves taking tissue cells from a horse -- even from a dead horse -- and injecting it into an egg to make a copy of that horse. Clones don't have parents. Cloning is not breeding.
Like a number of other breed registries, including the Jockey Club and the American Kennel Club, AQHA does not register clones.
In 2004, the AQHA membership passed Rule 227(a) to further stipulate that clones are not eligible for registration.
A survey of the AQHA membership showed that an overwhelming 86% of the members do not believe clones should be registered with AQHA.
Since the first cloning proposal in 2008, not a single AQHA member attending the convention membership business meeting has spoken or voted at such meeting in favor of registering clones or their offspring. Likewise, since 2008, not a single member of the Board of Directors attending the final Board meeting has spoken or voted at such meeting in favor of registering clones or their offspring.
This lawsuit is an attempt by two members of AQHA to force AQHA to register clones against the wishes of the membership.
Since its inception in 1940, American Quarter Horse breeders have been in the honorable business of working to make each generation of horses better than the generation before.
There is a fundamental, shared belief among AQHA members that the art and science of breeding is the way to improve the breed.
Cloning doesn't improve the breed; it just makes Xerox copies of the same horses.
With clones we're not moving forward, we're staying the same.
A key purpose of a breed registry is to be able to prove who the parents of a particular horse are. AQHA maintains records regarding the family trees or lineages of horses.
AQHA uses DNA testing to verify who a horse's mother and father are.
Prior to the registration of any foal, a genetic type must be on file for mothers born after January 1, 1989 and for fathers exposed to more than one mare after January 1, 1998.
Parentage verification has been part of AQHA rules as far back as the 1960's. Currently, a horse must be parentage verified through genetic testing before it can be registered if:
AQHA has cause to question its parentage.
Either of the parents was less than 2 years of age at time of conception.
It was the result of the use of embryo/oocyte transfer or cooled/frozen sperm.
It was more than 48 months of age at time of application.
Its mother was exposed to more than one stallion within a 30 day period.
It has excessive white markings.
It was born on or after January 1, 2007 and is a relative of the horse Impressive
For racehorses, in order to be tattoo identified, all horses foaled on or after January 1, 1992 shall be parentage verified through genetic testing.
When people buy a registered American Quarter Horse, they expect AQHA to be able to tell them exactly who a horse's mother and father are. If such people question the parentage of a horse, or it becomes necessary to check parentage for other reasons, AQHA has the ability to do so through DNA testing.
If a father is cloned, DNA testing is unable to determine whether the original father or its clone is the real father of a horse.
This problem also exists with respect to a mother if the egg used in cloning the mother comes from the same maternal line as the mother being cloned.
The consequences of cloning horses are not yet clear.
Given the $150,000 + cost of cloning, only very popular and elite horses will be cloned.
Breeders already use popular and elite horses over and over again in their breeding programs.
Sometimes too much of a "good" thing -- like copying a popular or elite horse over and over again for breeding purposes -- can lead to a bad thing.
Cloning has the potential to intensify the narrowing of the gene pool resulting in the worsening of known and unknown genetic diseases or the creation of new genetic diseases.
Plaintiffs allege that there is a shortage of elite horses and cloning would alleviate this problem.
Statistics show that there is no shortage of elite horses for buyers and breeders to choose from.
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