American Quarter Horse Association taken to trial - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

American Quarter Horse Association taken to trial

Amarillo, TX - A trial beginning in Amarillo Tuesday is grabbing the attention of thousands of people across the world and could have wide-spread implications.

Cloning is at the heart of an argument between some local horse breeders and the American Quarter Horse Association.

A battle they've been fighting for more than a year could finally see an answer.

"AQHA has embraced a lot of technology when it comes to breeding; all designed to help people who breed American Quarter Horses. Artificial insemination, embryo transfer, cooled semen, shipped semen; all of those are tools designed to help the breeders. It's different with cloning. Cloning doesn't involve the mating of a mother and a father, it involves copying DNA," says Tom Persechino, AQHA Spokesman.

Making it virtually impossible for the association to track the lineage of horses, something they've been known for since the 1960's.

Panhandle rancher Jason Abraham and Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen argue that cloning is a recent advancement in breeding techniques, which is both legal and safe.

They seek to overturn a rule that currently does not allow them to register their cloned animals within the association.

"I think the American Quarter Horse Association has to deal with this. It's here, it's something we'll have to deal with. There are stallions that are of breeding age right now. I would say, in the next five to seven years, I truly believe we'll see horses on the racetrack," says Gregg Veneklasen, Amarillo veterinarian. (Interview from 2008)

If the rule is overturned, it will affect more than just the people involved in this case.

"A lot of the equine breed registries, the Jockey Club, the American Paint Horse Association, I think even the American Kennel Club, will be paying attention to it because they do not allow clones into their registries. I think on a scale like that, you'll have a lot of those international organizations keeping an eye on what happens in this particular lawsuit," says Tom Persechino, AQHA Spokesman.

With over 300,000 members across the world, the association is the largest equine breed registry.

A survey conducted in 2010 showed that 86 percent of members did not believe clones should be registered.

"They feel like they have the right to make rules for their association and AQHA will vigorously defend the right of those members to make rules," says Tom Persechino, AQHA Spokesman.

Something the board of directors say they will continue to standby.

The trial could last up to two to three weeks.

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