AQHA Asks Court to Stay Clone Registrations

This past summer, a federal judge ruled that Quarter Horse clones should be registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Now, that breed organization has asked the federal court to stay clone registrations pending the outcome of an appeal of the court's original ruling.

Some owners have used the cloning process—which was first performed on horses in 2003—to preserve their animals' bloodlines, particularly those of high-performance equines. In response to cloning as a way to preserve bloodlines, some breed associations ruled on whether or not cloned horses can be included in their breed registries. In 2004 the AQHA board of directors approved Rule 227(a), which prohibits cloned horses or their offspring from being included in the organization's breed registry.

Last year Jason Abraham and two of his related companies, Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture and Abraham Equine Inc., filed suit against the AQHA in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division. The complaint asks the court to order the AQHA to remove Rule 227(a) on grounds that the ban on registering cloned horses and their offspring violates antitrust laws.

On July 30, a 10-person federal district court jury found that the rule preventing cloned Quarter Horses from being registered with the AQHA violated both state and federal antitrust rules. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson later signed an order requiring the AQHA to allow cloned animals to be registered.

AQHA Executive Director for Competition and Breed Integrity Tom Perechino said that on Oct. 14, the AQHA filed a motion seeking that the clone registry requirement be overturned.

“This is not a delay,” Perechino said. “AQHA filed the motion to stay as we work though the appeals process.”

Atty. Nancy Stone, who represents Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture, was unavailable for comment on the appeal or the AQHA's request for a stay.

Perechino said the AQHA has fielded many calls, letters, and emails from its members disappointed with the federal court's ruling to allow clones to be registered.

“It is clear from our members' overwhelming support that they, too, are deeply disappointed in the verdict and continue to be against the registration of clones and their offspring,” Perechino said. “The membership of this association clearly understands the importance of being able to make their own rules.”

Perechino said that the appeal could take as little as nine months or as much as a year or longer. Meanwhile, the AQHA continues to maintain the position that its rule prohibiting the registration of clones and their offspring is both reasonable and lawful, he said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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