Friday, September 10, 2010

Cloning update: Owner clones her stallion

 I read this article from The Horse magazine on the Health of Cloned Foals Examined in New Study. It's a tricky business and health issues are common. Meanwhile owners are cloning their favorite horses...

clipped from

A&M first to clone foal from live mare eggs

Cloned foal Mouse meets his genetic parent, Marc. 
Knotts provided the inspiration for the cloning project after learning about Texas A&M’s cloning efforts while searching for a horse similar to her stallion.
“Everything I could turn up was too small, too young, too old, not quite sound, etc.,” Knotts said. “I realized I didn’t just want another horse, I wanted another Marc.”
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  1. I read in Equus a while ago that my fave horse of all time (Gem Twist) was cloned. Nancey Jaffer did an article about it on equisearch, as well. She went to the Chapots' farm to meet the little guy; and right as Frank was saying that he wasn't sure if the horse would be a jumping super-star like his "dad," the colt jumped the pasture fence (if I recall correctly).

  2. I've often wished I had carbon copies of my Russell and my PJ, but in the end, the challenge and joy of training a new horse with different talents is half the fun.

    Guess I might not feel that way if I had a super grand champion one of a kind competitor...or something like that.

  3. I don't know, I'm on the nurture side of nature vs nurture. I know with horses a lot of the horse's quality depends on conformation, and that can be re-created by cloning, but there's so much going on in their minds. I'm not convinced you can get the same mind twice.

  4. AAAAA WHOOP! Go Texas A&M!
    I'm a junior there, and I know the veterinarian who is in charge of the cloning department. Dr. Hinrichs is awesome!

  5. One word: Creepy. With all the nice horses out there it seems indulgent and egotistical to clone even a very nice horse. I agree with both Jean (that meeting/training new horses is half the fun) and Lauren (that you may not get the same horse anyway!)

    On the show NPR show This American Life, they profiled a farmer who had his prize pet bull (who he had had since birth) cloned. The original bull was gentle; could be used in parades, came when called, etc. The clone gored him. Multiple times. Same upbringing, same genetics. Not the same.

    It seems to degrade the original horse to try to get a "copy." Preserve the memory of a great horse by moving on. That horse already gave you all he had--now you want more? How greedy can you get? The original horse was a combination of genetics, mothering, life experience, and something more ineffable. You can't recreate that, no matter how deep your pockets.

  6. I'm sorry, but this is just too much. Aside from killing off the one of a kind mentality (and so much for special) all I can think to say is: "How many unwanted, abandoned and starving horses are there in the United States again?".

  7. A friend of mine works for Viagen, the company that will have the cloned horses on display at WEG. She's the owner of the gelding Sapphire's cloned colt, Saphir. I've seen pictures of Gem Twist's clone, Gemini, who is a 2-y-o now and going undersaddle with Laura Chapot. Pretty incredible how similar they are! From what I hear, Laura says they feel exactly the same.

    If you think of it like duplicating an embryo just like what happens with fraternal twins, it doesn't seem that different from things that happen naturally. I've heard concerns that you'll end up with six clones of Rox Dene competing against each other in the hunters (or whoever a similar caliber horse would be in another discipline), but I think cloning is cost-prohibitive enough that it won't come to that. Anyway, thanks for the update, I think the whole thing is rather fascinating and cool!

  8. The science nerd in me thinks this is really cool, but the girl in me with the rescued OTTB mare thinks it is a waste of money that could put some closure to the slaughter vs. not debate (i.e. subsudized euthanasia, better pay for Animal Control Officers, etc)

    It wouldn't be fraternal twins in that fraternal twins have different, but very similar genetic material. That would be embryo-transfer (ET). Same mare/stallion combo, but different genetic material. These would be identical twins. Same genetic material. One egg split into two.

    Besides the issue of money, my other issue is the same as to why breeding doesn't work for me. 1. I hate to wait for anything. 2. You never know what is going to happen in that 11+ months, infection of the ET receipant, injury during birth, etc.

    There is always a gamble with horses, but I like my horses already on the ground, so I can look into their eyes and see what they've got inside.

  9. Doesn't this undermine the very thing that makes special horses so special? The fact that they are ONE of a kind is what makes them so incredible. A lot of factors must come together to create a real gem, and that is what really is wonderful and magical about the entire prospect of breeding, raising, training, and competing with horses. And as far as this not corrupting the sport(s) because it is so cost prohibitive, isn't it just perpetuating the financial gap and barrier which already limits what so many of us (poor) horse enthusiasts are able to accomplish? I think this is a BAD idea and is simply one more tool to sully the pursuit of horses for us all.

    As Hollyn said, the science geek in me thinks this is an awesome experiment in nature vs nurture, but the horse lover in me shudders at the thought...


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