Jury Rules Against AQHA Cloning Rules

Owners of cloned Quarter Horses might soon be able to register their animals with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA): a Texas jury has found the association's rule forbidding the registration of cloned horses is a violation of federal antitrust laws.

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.

According to a written statement from the AQHA, on July 30 a 10-person federal district court jury found that the rule violates both state and federal antitrust rules.

In a written statement, Atty. Nancy Stone, who represents Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture along with several other attorneys, said she was pleased and that the registration of cloned horses could begin soon.

“We are confident that the favorable jury verdict will result in the court ordering AQHA to register (cloned horses belonging to) Jason Abraham; Gregg Veneklasen, DVM; and others, and that the registration of these horses will further the mission of AQHA to maintain the integrity of the breed,” Stone's statement said.

In his own written statement, AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway, Jr., said the AQHA is disappointed by the case's outcome, but that it stands by its registration policy.

“It continues to be our position that our rule prohibiting the registration of clones and their offspring is both reasonable and lawful,” Treadway's statement said.

AQHA President John Dobbs said that the organization's leadership will meet with the executive committee and the legal committee to explore appeal options. Those options will be announced later, the statement said.

Meanwhile, AQHA spokesman Tom Persechino said he was unsure how many cloned horses might become AQHA registered: “We simply do not know how many clones there are. Right now we have a jury verdict, not an order to register (and) I imagine we will know more as we move through the appeals process.”

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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