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On The Fence With Carol

Filed under: Current Articles,Editorial,Featured |     


August/September, 2013 (click for the complete digital article)

By Carol Harris


Another month has passed while I keep on trying to balance myself on this “Shaky Ole Fence.”

I have enjoyed hearing from so many of you but I would like to remind each of you that you may accomplish more if you direct your problems and opinions to your State Directors and AQHA’s Executive Committee. I can only help by occasionally reminding them that our membership badly needs attention to their problems. If your leadership does not help, I can only say “I’m sorry.”

Most of you may realize that AQHA has been extra busy between the confusion of promoting their new programs listed in our Official Handbook, their unfortunate database breakdown, the bewildering Leveling Program and, of course, the devastating cloning lawsuit that went to trial on July 17th.

This lawsuit involves two individuals, Jason Abraham, a rancher, and Greg Veneklasen, a veterinarian, who wanted to overturn AQHA’s rule REG106.1 that prohibits cloned horses from eligibility for AQHA’s registration. The Plaintiffs were seeking an additional $6,000,000 in damages as well as enabling themselves to change an AQHA rule that would turn our industry upside down and destroy the trust of our 280,000 members. Naturally I was hoping desperately, along with everyone I know, that AQHA will prevail and be able to enforce the current rules regarding registration, but as I was writing this column I received word the jury did not rule in our favor. Thank God the loss did not support any monetary compensation!

I can’t believe we didn’t win! I am told we will appeal, but I find it puzzling our association and their team of attorneys and experts were unable to defend us in a suit that causes our registry to lose so much. I am even more disturbed that an American court of law is forcing us to abandon our primary purpose as a traditional horse breeding organization. How will our breed continue to improve if we become stuck with cloned replicas of horses from the past? As I see it, breeding is all about striving for improvement with every generation.

I think it should be realized that any rule change brought about by this litigation is the result of the plaintiffs, in my opinion, knowingly breaking an existing AQHA rule that has been in effect through our governance process. It seems to me that despite this knowledge, they continued to produce cloned horses, and rather than abiding by the rules as mandated by our membership, they chose to not only sue to change the rules to suit themselves, but also to seek monetary damages for those clones they produced during a time when they knew they were not eligible for registration!

I share the position of many who feel the acceptance of clones as registered American Quarter Horses may well be destructive to a healthy and successful gene pool that AQHA is obligated to protect. With the coming appeal, we must find a way to support AQHA’s Mission Statement which clearly defines our duty, “To record and preserve pedigrees of the American Quarter Horse while maintaining the integrity of the breed.” It is my opinion that cloning has no relationship to pedigrees or maintaining breed integrity. Even though clones have never been permitted to be registered by AQHA rules, these horses have had unlimited opportunities to prove their individual merit in lucrative competitions sponsored by organizations that do not require registration papers in order to compete such as cutting, reining, roping, working cow horse, team penning, barrel racing, jumping, etc. Other than what I see to be unfounded plaintiff assertions, there is absolutely no time-proven proof that clones would be worthy additions to the American Quarter Horse breed. This causes me to challenge everyone to consider a question: Why is it the Plaintiffs have not “compounded” some prominent winning clones to substantiate their case? My answer: I believe they chose to have this case heard as soon as possible because time was already making it obvious that cloning had failed to provide the world with identical replicas of the great horses they have targeted. Do you suppose these two, in my opinion, greedy entrepreneurs might be a couple of scamming opportunists who identified a way to lure the wealthy (or suckers) into purchasing expensive replicas of their favorite equine pet, or outstanding race and show horses that in the long run could make them sources of repeated riches?

One more thought for everyone to think about: AQHA members should band together and encourage our Executive Vice President to assemble a stout legal team to include the following, and correct me if I’m wrong on #2:

1. An Anti-Trust Specialist who can sell a jury or judge that the Plaintiffs in the cloning case are not being denied the opportunity to prove the merit of their clones or to make a living for themselves.

2. An Equine Law Specialist who can explain a complicated process by reducing it to it’s simplest form: breeding involves an egg and sperm from opposite sexes that creates an offspring with a traceable pedigree, something that cloning (with only one set of genes manufactured), is not able to do.

And most important,

3. An Attorney who has much integrity, experience and success winning cases with the same Federal Appellate panel AQHA will face on appeal. These specialists would also be wise to research what caused AQHA to fail in the Amarillo courtroom and in other trials held in Texas.

I pray that we all become a lot sharper when fighting our battles or, who knows, our world might be eventually dining on very expensive cloned horse meat along with cloned beef and other “cloned stuff, like schmeat”.

Til next month!

Please let me know what you think:

Carol Harris charris75@aol.com

7255 W. Hwy. 329 · Reddick, FL 32686

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