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 www.aqha.com. 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.