Thursday, February 19, 2009

AQHA to Register Clones?

...Sure they will. Why not? It would mean Mo' Money for the ASSociation,....and it wont be long before cloned AQHA registered horses start showing up at foreign-slaughter houses to be consumed as a delicacy by wealthy europeans.

Send in the Clones: Forum on American Quarter Horse Clone Registration Rule Change Will Be Available via Webcast

One of the biggest changes in the history of American horse breeding has been set in motion, but you don't have to travel to San Antonio, Texas on March 6 to be part of it.

American Quarter Horse Association members who can’t make it to the equine cloning forum at the 2009 AQHA Annual Convention will be able to watch the event online in the members section of The forum Webcast will begin at 2 p.m. March 6.

You must be an AQHA member and have a Personal Identification Number to log in at the site and access the Webcast.

Under Rule 227(a) of the AQHA official handbook, a rule that became effective in 2004, American Quarter Horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration. Clones are currently not being bred for performance use, but rather for breeding, so the offspring of a clone would not be able to registered.

All that may change in March.

The AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee (SBRC) first considered a proposed change to Rule 227(a) at the 2008 AQHA Convention. That proposed change would allow a live foal produced via a particular type of cloning to be registered if its DNA matches that of a registered American Quarter Horse. Voting on that rule change was postponed to 2009 while more information was gathered.

The proposed change to Rule 227(a) will again be on the SBRC agenda at the 2009 AQHA Convention but only after a public forum where members will be able to learn more about cloning and to express their opinions. This forum is open to all interested AQHA members.

Confirmed forum panelists include Katrin Hinrichs, a veterinarian involved in equine cloning at Texas A&M University; Sharon Spier, an epidemiologist at the University of California-Davis; George Seidel, a professor specializing in biomedical sciences at Colorado State University; and Blake Russell of ViaGen, a commercial cloning lab.

Following the forum, AQHA members watching the webcast will have the opportunity to leave online comments on the information presented. Comments will be limited to 100 words and need to be related to the topics presented during the forum.

For more information on cloning, see the February issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal, the March issue of The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal and the March-April issue of America’s Horse.

Blogger's Note: My copy of the Journal came in the mail today and contained an eight-page article called "Pure Genetics", which covers many aspects of the cloning issue.

In 2008, the National Cutting Horse Association passed a rule allowing clones to compete. Champion cutting horse Smart Little Lena was cloned five times in 2006 by Texas A&M University, according to the AQHA article. Offspring sired by any of the five would currently not be eligible for registration with the AQHA, but would be able to compete in NCHA events. Might clones become part of a distinct new breed association?

After the AQHA convention in March, they might be welcome in the AQHA for the first time. Other breed associations would then need to decide whether to follow the AQHA's lead; currenty no breed associations register clones.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding

Equestrian News Release

February 3, 2009 -- Loxahatchee, FL -- It hasn't even been two weeks since the inauguration of President Obama, and it seems as if some of our elected representatives have missed the forward movement of transparency and accountability regarding lobbyists and ethics. Maybe that is where the rub is: it's not a lobbyist who is attempting to steer taxpayers' dollars for a personal agenda, it is a state representative who touts an elected seat.

North Dakota State Representative Rod Froelich and State Senator Joe Miller have introduced a bill to the state's legislative assembly proposing to spend $100,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a horse slaughter house in North Dakota. There are some startling coincidences worthy of mention. Representative Froelich's family are longtime quarterhorse breeders, and according to their website at they specialize in breeding horses of outstanding color and disposition.

Quote from the site: "Welcome to our 38th annual production sale. The five Froelich brothers, along with our mother, Barbara, and our nephew, Lance, are excited to again bring you a consistent group of foals with 'disposition, color, & conformation ranch-raised in big country'."

Whether Representative Froelich has sent horses to slaughter is a question only he can answer. Unfortunately, in our country, breeders send horses to slaughter because of their color; yes, this does exist. For example, two QH babies named Abercrombie and Fitch arrived at Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue. They came with AQHA papers so we called the previous owner, a breeder in Minnesota who selects for color: "palomino to be exact." According to the breeder, the two babies were sold to Simon Horse Company in Minnesota owned by Joe and Ryon Simon who are known killbuyers for horse slaughter. Both horses were sold because they were red in color, and Fitch's mother was sent to slaughter because that was her third red baby. This almost takes us back many years ago to a situation which was referred to as "cleansing."

How many times are we going to look into the pro-slaughter bowl of cherries and see that the pit is usually someone who stands to gain personally or financially, whether on the sale of horsemeat or the act of slaughter itself?

Here is an idea for Rep. Froelich: rather than ask the taxpayers to pay for a study on the feasibility of opening a slaughterhouse in North Dakota (creating a dumping ground for quarterhorses that do not have the most perfect conformation, sought after color or greatest disposition), ask the AQHA to designate funds for genetic studies and education. Even the horse novice understands the homozygous genes and the possibilities of perfecting color choices. Another thought would be to take that $100,000 and donate it to a rescue that saves slaughter-bound horses, and we will take all your not-so-perfect babies and mares that do not produce foals of the "right" color and place them in loving homes. It is so redundant to have yet another attempt at promoting horse slaughter stem from the AQHA arena.

How unfortunate that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest equine organizations in the US and yet continues to support horse slaughter. Even while the thoroughbred associations are stepping up to develop solutions to help our equine athletes retire safely and with dignity, the AQHA (with four times the annual foal registration of the TB industry) refuses to present and incorporate a plan for their horses. In addition, the AQHA allows for artificial insemination, embryo transplant and cloning (their latest endeavor) while the thoroughbred industry requires live cover. As stated earlier, a major consideration should be researching methods of successfully producing the most sought-after foals.

Consider these numbers related to the AQHA (2007 US data):

-Quarter horse population: 2,859,851 (Estimated 2007 all-breed population: 9.2 million)
-AQHA new foals/registrations: 117,830
-AQHA membership: 305,000
-Total owners: 902,453
-AQHA total assets: $111,154,925
-Revenues from registrations, transfers, membership, breeding fees: $19,288,000
-AQHA 2008 new foals/registrations: 140,000 (this should be 140,000, right?)

These revenues and assets are not comparable with any other breed association, The AQHA charges owners for foal registrations and annual dues. The majority of QH owners do register their horses as it adds market value to the horse, and it's required in order to enter the horse in AQHA-sanctioned racing, shows and events. More foals equal more revenue for the AQHA.

These figures show that annual breeding means huge financial gain for the AQHA. Excess stock would negatively impact market values, so unsalable quarter horses go to slaughter to make room on farms for next year's foals. The AQHA also contributed $9,000 to Senator Larry Craig, who filed a notice of intent to object on a federal bill aimed towards ending horse slaughter; subsequently, the bill saw no action in the Senate.

No other breed of horse is sent more frequently to slaughter than the American Quarterhorse, the real victims of greed in the American horse industry.

If we trace the historical path of this issue in the political arena, the continuation of horse slaughter has always stemmed from personal agendas or personal gain. This year, let's try to have humanity as the agenda, do what is right, and represent the voice of the people.

Pure Thoughts Inc.
National Horse Welfare Organization
Jennifer Swanson
Cheryl Hanna