Being near horse country I’ve wondered about this a lot. The death or euthanasia of a horse or its gelding before it realizes its racing potential means that desirable characteristics are gone forever. Thinking further on this, MANY horse owners are Middle Eastern where money is no object and secrecy would be easier that on a US horse farm. How about keeping a stable of champion duplicates whose genetics are added to an existing horse line occasionally? Could part of a horses heritage, say 2-3 generations back, be hidden?
It a horse has to be put down or cannot reproduce why not keep a little sample for future use?
I believe I’ve heard of “clone a pet” services for $10,000 (?) but I don’t know if any of these have succeeded or actually exist.
It has happened before in Italy and Ireland. There was a lawsuit in the US over whether a cloned horse should be able to register with the American Quarter Horse Assn. You can’t register clones with The Jockey Club, either; *
“While Quarter Horses and Standardbreds may be bred using artificial insemination, The Jockey Club rules only permit foals to be registered that are the result of the natural coupling of a stallion mounting a broodmare.”*
Perhaps tangential to the question, but cloning would only benefit the profit motive, nothing else. It wouldn’t help, and would probably escalate, animal welfare problems. (I don’t work with horses, but lost my heart to retired racing greyhounds which have similar issues.)
None of these rules address the possibility of a clone of Secretariat or Seabiscuit mounting your prize mare and producing a natural-born foal, though. For that matter, you could mate a clone of Secretariat with a clone of Winning Colors. This would be an advantage over current procedures in that you could keep Secretariat clones around for far longer than you could keep Secretariat himself, and would also allow for crosses between non-contemporary horses.
Surely there must be some procedure for admitting new horses into the Official Breeding Lines, no? What would happen if some random farmer discovered that one of his horses was really, really fast? Could he enter it in races? And assuming that’s possible, couldn’t one claim that the Secretariat clone was just such a new discovery?
Even worse: It used to be (and may still be) that there was no sure way to be sure a mare was in heat other then by putting her in front of a stallion and watch the reaction.
Most breeders had a second-rate stallion on hand. Mare would be brought to them and if they showed sexual interest – usually by trying to break out of their stall to get to the mare – the mare was taken away to the stud stallion. So the one horse would have a parade of mares, all ready for him, only to be taken away abruptly.
That’s still pretty much how it’s done. You introduce the mare to a stallion (often a dedicated “teaser”) and watch her reaction. If she “assumes the position,” pees, etc., she’s presumed to be in heat and ready to breed. If she squeals, strikes, and tries to rip his head off, she’s either not ready yet or the moment has passed. Less-valuable stallions may do their own teasing, but a low-value teaser is often used to reduce the risk of injury to a valuable horse.
Stallions will usually rise to the occasion when presented with a mare in heat. Sexual dysfunction isn’t unheard of, though. I’ve heard of stallions with a preference for mares of a specific color, requiring a fluffer of the right shade to get them excited, followed by a quick swap for the intended object of their exertions. Some just kind of dither about and take a while to get aroused. This can piss off a mare who’s ready to be bred, so the stallion may be exposed to a different mare until he’s ready to mount.
Aren’t the restrictions on outbreeding and cloning specific to each horse racing organization? I don’t think there’s any legal impediments to holding unrestricted races. No one does because those who have the experience necessary are invested in the current inbreeding system.
As I understand it, the ‘no artificial insemination’ rule is so that when horses are sold, the buyer has a way to judge a horse based on the wins/losses of its sire and dam’s heritage. This is to prevent someone from breeding from a tube, and selling a good looking horse which the buyer has no way to determine its value other than ‘nice legs’.