Gregg Veneklasen DVM and Jason Abraham

AQHA Cloning Lawsuit Mediation Date Reset

Gregg Veneklasen DVM and Jason AbrahamGregg Veneklasen DVM and Jason AbrahamCourt-ordered mediation in the cloning lawsuit involving the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and two Texas horse owners that had been set for late March has been re-scheduled for May 1, according to court records.

The pending United States District Northern District case, set in U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson’s Amarillo, Texas court, also includes a June 24 “be ready for trial” order. However, a court clerk and an AQHA attorney said the trial is not likely to start at that time.

Often, a trial setting comes several months after the trial ready date, one of the attorneys involved in the case said. The case could go to trial as early as this summer, but it also might not take place until several months later. It also could be resolved after the May 1 mediation, or later after an eventual court order.

The antitrust lawsuit was jointly filed in April 2012 by horseman Jason Abraham, Canadian, Texas, and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen, Amarillo, Texas. The lawsuit seeks to overturn AQHA Rule 227(a), which states: “Horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration. Cloning is defined as any method by which the genetic material of an unfertilized egg or any embryo is removed and replaced by genetic material taken from another organism, added to/with genetic material from another organism or otherwise modified by any means in order to produce a live foal.”

Ruby TooRuby Too, a clone of Playboys Ruby, was the first clone to compete in NCHA competition. Photo by Hart Photography.

The lawsuit alleges the AQHA rule illegally limits competition, putting owners of cloned horses and their offspring at an economic disadvantage. Since the AQHA does not register clones, it also does not allow for the registration of offspring of clones. Abraham and Veneklasen’s lawsuit claims clones produce foals that are not clones, and are actually identical to any foals born following any other form of conception.

“There is no genetic manipulation of the animal,” the lawsuit states. “No genes are added, taken away, or manipulated. A clone is a genetic twin of the original animal. The offspring of clones are not clones.”

In its response to the lawsuit, AQHA attorneys stated as a private organization with voluntary memberships, the AQHA should be allowed to operate without interference from courts. The AQHA filed a motion in May 2012 asking Judge Robinson to dismiss the case, however no ruling has been made on the motion.

Proposals to amend the cloning rule have been submitted and denied at every AQHA Convention for the past six years, including the March 2013 meeting in Houston, Texas. The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) has allowed clones to compete since 2009, but at this point, none have earned significant money as competitors.

Barring a mutual resolution between the two parties, or the judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit, an eventual courtroom civil trial in Amarillo, Texas, could determine whether cloned horses and/or their offspring will be registered by the AQHA in the future.

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