Lawsuit Challenges AQHA Cloned Horse Registration Policy

A member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and two of his companies have filed suit claiming that the association's policy prohibiting the registry of equine clones violates U.S. 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.

On April 23 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. Federal antitrust laws prohibit monopolies or anti-competitive activities on the part of corporations and other entities.

Abraham's attorney, Ronald D. Nickum, decline to comment on the case.

Atty. Nancy Stone, who represents Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture one of the companies that is party to the lawsuit said the AQHA could have averted the case.

"It is unfortunate that AQHA would not resolve this issue without the necessity of a lawsuit," Stone said. "We are confident in our case and feel that our Complaint filed in this case speaks for itself."

In a written statement posted on the AQHA website, the association's vice president, Don Treadway, said the lawsuit was under review.

"At this time, we are reviewing the lawsuit and have informed the AQHA Executive Committee, the stud book and registration committee, and the board of directors," Treadway said. "These committees and the AQHA members who sit on them have charged the staff with defending the rules of the Association."

The AQHA is not the only breed registry organization to prohibit the registry of cloned horses and their offspring. The Jockey Club, which registers Thoroughbred horses, denies cloned horses from its registry. Don Vizi, executive director of the Paso Fino Horse Association, said under his organizations' rules cloned horses are not eligible for registration either.

"We have some concern because we can't tell the difference between which is the cloned animal and which is the original horse," Vizi 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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