First Commercially Cloned Mares Born

On March 30, scientists announced the birth of the first commercially cloned mare created from the cells of champion cutting horse Royal Blue Boon. The filly, Royal Blue Boon Too, was carried to term by a recipient mare and born on Feb. 19 at Royal Vista Southwest Farms in Purcell, Okla. A clone of cutting champion Tap O Lena was born on March 9 at the farm.

The first equid clones were born in 2003; mules in Idaho came first, then a filly in Italy. In 2005, the first commercially cloned horse (of a champion endurance gelding) was born.

Registered Quarter Horse Royal Blue Boon, the all-time leading producer of cutting horses in the world, is 26 years old and long past her performance and breeding career. Her owner had the mare cloned to preserve her genetic material. Tap O Lena is another top earner that cannot be bred.

To produce a clone, a veterinarian takes a small tissue biopsy from the donor horse. He ships the cells to a laboratory where scientists grow the cells in culture before performing nuclear transfer--taking DNA from the donor cells and inserting it into enucleated eggs (eggs from which the genetic material has been removed). The resulting embryos are grown in an incubator for several days, then are transfered into recipient females.

Two companies, ViaGen (which provides the animal cloning technology) and Encore Genetics, partnered on the equine cloning business. Blake Russell, ViaGen's vice president of sales and marketing, said, "Expect five additional clones from notable champions this year."

United States-based customers pay $150,000 for the first "copy" of their horse. It is approximately $1,500 to bank cooled or frozen genetic material for future cloning, but if the owner chooses to clone within a month of banking their horse's genes, the cost of the gene banking is absorbed into the cloning cost. Additional clones after the first would be $90,000 apiece. For more information see

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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