Since 2003 when the first horse was cloned by Italian scientists there has been an increasing amount of horse clones being produced every year. Most horse registries do not recognize these copies and will not allow them to be registered. This was the case until just recently when the Continental Studbook which registers quality warmbloods and sporthorses started working with the foremost United States horse cloning lab and will supposedly be registering clones that fit their registry breed criteria.
Most clones are the copies of champion horses of many different disciplines. Ranging from champion cutting horses, jumpers, and champion paso finos to sporthorses.
The horse racing world has debated over whether racing clones might be more profitable than the traditional methods of breeding for a champion. Simply because traditional breeding is such a gamble and with cloning you know what you’re going to get.
Obviously cloning has always sparked heated debates. Within the horse world where traditional breeding is a prized and prestigious art form it definitely does that. Some people can’t help but get excited over the possibilities that cloning creates; being able to pit clones of champion horses in competition to really see who would win. Or the argument that often male horses are gelded early on in life and then go on to become great champions but then cannot pass on their genes through breeding. They argue that a clone could be made that would be able to then pass on the genetic code to the offspring.
Others declare that tampering with such things can only lead to disaster. That such creative power was never meant to be held in the hands of man. Others simply say that cloning takes the magic out of the breeding of these majestic animals and places it firmly in the sterile hands of science.
The basic cloning process involves taking a genetic sample of horse to be cloned. It is then taken to a lab and cultured before being inserted into eggs that have had the genetic code removed from them. The eggs are then kept in the lab for a short amount of time before being inserted into the surrogate mother much like an embryo transfer. Scientists say that with reference to horses that the coat pattern may not come out exactly the same as its genetic match, and that its much the same as producing an identical twin. There is a chance of minor physical differences.
So, as to it’s effect on the horse world, we will see if this is just a passing phase. Or perhaps this practice will change our beloved animals forever. Whether for better or for worse, is of course the question.