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Cloning . . . Modern Marvel or Elitist Advantage?

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  • Cloning . . . Modern Marvel or Elitist Advantage?

    So, whilst perusing my latest batch of mailbox-stuffing equine journals, I started to notice (really notice) the ads for equine cloning. And it got me to thinking . . .

    What does this mean to the future of our various disciplines? Religious and ethical dilemmas aside, are we further propagating the “designer horses” that have become the mainstay of competitors who can afford them, or are we paying tribute to the unforgettable partners that have shaped the history of equestrian sports.

    Have we evolved into a collective that has become so enamored with success that we now dispute Mother Nature’s pesky little claim to what most of us refer to as a life span, or are we merely resourceful individuals taking advantage of the brilliant minds that have managed to engineer a feat so impressive that it leaves most of us scratching our heads in amazement.

    No question that we all have empty voids left from the loss of a horse, whether it is because we lost a friend or because we lost a chance at success (whatever your definition of success is). But does it mean we should recreate them? From a strictly competitive point of view, it does beg the question of “will the person with the most money win?” Of course it takes a good rider to finish first, but I think you get meat of the message.

    Just curious what your thoughts are. I’m currently between opinions.

    Discuss . . .
    Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

    The Grove at Five Points

  • #2
    Honestly, I feel like so many other factors (luck, training, soundness, luck, personality, luck) besides natural talent go into making a top event horse, cloning would be the least of my worries. The people who can spend $100k on a clone are already spending $100k on a fancy horse someone else has brought along, so, no I don't think cloning will have much impact that way.

    Comment


    • #3
      To me that's like saying anyone who can afford a nice, made schoolmaster or well bred young horse with potential are exhibiting elitist advantages.

      Comment


      • #4
        You still have to rear, break, train and keep the critter from wrecking itself.

        I think it's OK for keeping genes in the gene pool that would otherwise have been lost to gelding, but personally would say "no" to a clone.
        Click here before you buy.

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        • #5
          I agree that the environment plays a significant role in how horses are produced, and unless you are raising identical twins the chances of producing the same horse are virtually nil.

          In fact, I watched something (I think on animal planet) about a man who let a university clone his bull. The bull was a family pet, friendly, loving, etc. etc. His clone has so far trampled the man twice. Sent him to the hospital. Twice.

          Ethics aside, I personally believe that there are so many talented horses out there already it's a waste of money. I could potentially buy 3 OTTBs and most likely ONE of them will go prelim. Seems silly to spend 100k on gamble.
          Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...

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          • #6
            The guy with the bull was WEIRD!!
            Click here before you buy.

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            • #7
              I think it has its place for breeding. Taking a super talented gelding (like Gem Twist) and letting us have access to that genetic combination for breeding.

              But personally...no matter how much I love my beasts...I can't see spending the money. And while they have same genetics.....the clones are not the exact same animal.
              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                I think it has its place for breeding. Taking a super talented gelding (like Gem Twist) and letting us have access to that genetic combination for breeding.

                But personally...no matter how much I love my beasts...I can't see spending the money. And while they have same genetics.....the clones are not the exact same animal.
                Interesting point. I, for instance, have identical twin daughters. Two "nearly teens" with the exact same DNA structure and two very different personality traits. So, as BFNE states, why spend the money on such a gamble?

                Maybe I just don't get it.
                Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                The Grove at Five Points

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is it legal within the governing bodies (USEF, FEI) to compete a cloned horse?

                  Because really it is the same horse, maybe trained differently but still the same horse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Anyone ever watch "Multiplicity" This discussion always makes me think of that movie.

                    I think it is awesome that they technology exists to "make a copy" of your beloved pet, but I can't help but to think it just isn't going to be the same. I loved my first horse and it would be cool to have "him" again, but you know what? It wouldn't be the same because I couldn't recreate all his life experiences that made him who he was. Genetically, he'd be the same, but behaviorally, no.

                    I understand why people are doing it with fantastic geldings, for the genetics, but what if being a gelding contributed to their success? For the record, I grew up watching Gem Twist and loved him and I always thought it was nice that he was a gelding. I don't object to recreating the geldings as much as the potentially sticky situation of cloning an already existing breeding stallion, which I believe has already happened with at least one Arabian stallion.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Foxhall View Post
                      Is it legal within the governing bodies (USEF, FEI) to compete a cloned horse?
                      I don't think that's an issue yet. I believe that currently clones have a fragility--as well as significantly shorter life spa--than the original models. Most everything I've read about those who are cloning is that they are doing to access breeding material not for creating competitive horses.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ronald Zabala (in this week's COTH) tried to clone his four-star horse. Both clones died in utero, but Ronald had said the FEI would recognize and register them, so I guess it's not a problem... yet at least.
                        I evented just for the Halibut.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by quiterandom1 View Post

                          In fact, I watched something (I think on animal planet) about a man who let a university clone his bull. The bull was a family pet, friendly, loving, etc. etc. His clone has so far trampled the man twice. Sent him to the hospital. Twice.
                          The bull also died. Quite a bit younger than the original animal. Really interesting (and as DW points out, weird) story around these people and the choices they made. This American Life did a radio and television segment about it. Link here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radi...px?episode=291
                          Chronicles of the $700 Pony
                          The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony
                          www.blithetraveler.com <-- My Blog

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                          • #14
                            Humans are playing with time. We've got the LHC at CERN (which may have been disrupted by forces from the future ), cloning, genetically-modified everything and...

                            ... in Italy, they're trying to back-breed GIANT CATTLE (aurochs, actually, which was also a pet project of Goering's in the Nazi era). Carpaccio, anyone?

                            I would like to have a carbon copy of my favorite horse, who is now 31 and still devoted to a life of mayhem. But then I realize that Amos might be the 'good' version of his DNA.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I understand why people are doing it with fantastic geldings, for the genetics, but what if being a gelding contributed to their success?
                              Of course that's another whole piece of the puzzle. But "what if" is awfully tempting, isn't it? "What if" there could be another Barbaro, another Gem Twist, another Ruffian, another John Henry, all taking their rightful (??) place in the gene pool? This kind of speculation isn't just science fiction any more, and the discussion deserves to be held as to whether or not it is "right" or "wrong".
                              Click here before you buy.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                Of course that's another whole piece of the puzzle. But "what if" is awfully tempting, isn't it? "What if" there could be another Barbaro, another Gem Twist, another Ruffian, another John Henry, all taking their rightful (??) place in the gene pool? This kind of speculation isn't just science fiction any more, and the discussion deserves to be held as to whether or not it is "right" or "wrong".
                                Exactly.

                                I do get a humorous visual of a field with 25 Barbaro "attempts" all running in circles chasing their tails. Lets see, was that BB to Bb, or Bb to BB . . . hmmmm
                                Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                The Grove at Five Points

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Here's a question, what if the quest to attain "perfection" as we knew it keeps us from looking at the possibilities of what can be had with new combinations. The expression of genes is not understood enough to know what contribution environmental factors have. The genes can be present but not expressed to the degree of the original because the environmental conditions weren't exactly the same. That being said, I think we can all think of a horse we have had or ridden in the past that we say "If only I had them now."

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                    Of course that's another whole piece of the puzzle. But "what if" is awfully tempting, isn't it? "What if" there could be another Barbaro, another Gem Twist, another Ruffian, another John Henry, all taking their rightful (??) place in the gene pool? This kind of speculation isn't just science fiction any more, and the discussion deserves to be held as to whether or not it is "right" or "wrong".
                                    Just a little point about genetics. Because the stallion only contributes his nuclear DNA, the mare used as a egg donor for his is irrelevant for his future breeding, though it could make a difference in the clones performance. This is because the mare contributes the mitocondrial DNA.

                                    Therefore for a MARE to be cloned and pass on the exact same genes as a the original you would need to use an egg from a mare with the same mare line as the original for the cloning.

                                    This difference could also be why there are performance differences between the original animals and the clones.

                                    Christa

                                    Who has no personal interest in cloning

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      cloning syndicates?

                                      Just imagining---if you could strong arm the Jockey Club into accepting clones, then you could form syndicates to make multiple clones of the most successful racing TBs. Since some of them would inevitably wash out, the eventing world could be flooded with clones of Triple Crown winners!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                        "What if" there could be another Barbaro, another Gem Twist...
                                        There is another Gem Twist-- he was cloned and "Gemini" was born in 2008.
                                        SportHorseRiders.com
                                        Taco Blog
                                        *T3DE 2010 Pact*

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