Friday 27 February 2015

Cloning Curiosity

This post is going to be a break from my regular journal-type blogging as:
(a) I have barely seen my horses all week;
(b) I haven't ridden since Sunday and
(c) I am seriously curious as to ya'lls take on the cloning of top horses rigmarole...

Now let me preface this musing post by saying I know nothing about the science behind this process nor am I claiming to know anything about anything to do with cloning. I am simply going to share info I came across and perhaps ask some questions to try and gauge how others feel about this particular scientific advancement.

Cruising - LINK for photo source
This topic came to my attention through the announcement that arguably one of the most influential sport horse sires bred & stood in Ireland, Cruising, has been cloned.
His mini-mes are now 3 years of age and will be starting breeding duties this year. Below is a video that was on national television in Ireland explaining the owner/breeders reasoning/Decvision to clone the great horse.

Personally I am not sure how I feel about this.
I am all for stem cell research for curing illnesses but I cannot hand-on-heart say I am 100% behind the cloning of animals for personal gain.
There is so much still unknown when it comes to clones, admittedly the only way to learn more about this is to try things and see what happens, but still I am wary of the boundaries being pushed too far too fast. How much controlled testing has happened when we consider that the first horse was only cloned in 2003 - the longterm effects of these experiments can hardly be considered concrete at this early stage - little over a decade since the first equine clone.

LINK to image source
However mixed my feelings are about the act of cloning top class animals for those who have the money to do so (at the end of the day how you spend your mega-bucks is your choice) - my fears stem from these clones being used for breeding. I am not entirely happy with this I being naive & closed minded?
Is it not basically devaluing the offspring of the cloned horse?
Is it saying we don't think they can ever live up to their lineage so we will just make another...

Will people breed to this unknown quantity without a performance record?
I would like to see these horses ridden and competed up to a high level before considering entering them into a studbook and allowing people to breed to them - but then I suppose the argument could be raised that Cruising ticked all those boxes in his lifetime & these are his clones, so hasn't he already proven himself?
But, as evidenced from the video above and previous evidence of other cloned creatures; characteristics & mannerisms while similar are not identical.
Like identical twins these are not 100% carbon copies of each other!

How will the cloned DNA reproduce when crossed with other DNA - is that science like breathing and something that happens naturally or will the genes mutate and create X-horses...I have no idea!
In this instance the cloned horse was in his 20s when the DNA samples were taken to be cloned - does age affect DNA?
Although the youngsters in question in this instance are physically three years of age, is their DNA older?
Will they develop differently because of this?
Can anyone know for sure?

I have none of these answers, and not to panic, I don't expect to find any in the comments of this post - however it would be awesome if you more knowledgeable horse folk could enlighten me. I am curious as to your thoughts on the cloning question.
If you wish to share that is, obviously no one need comment!
Not having buckets of money I do not think cloning my girls will ever be an issue for me, nor do I think I would want to if the opportunity presented itself. I guess my bigger qualm over this particular cloning story is their being directly available for breeding purposes. I have more questions than I have answers to and the whole thing makes me uneasy & my head spin - science for science sake is a slippery slope in my opinion - but I am not in anyway scientifically minded so in all honesty probably shouldn't even be commenting.
Had you heard this story before reading this post?
Have you any thoughts you'd care to share - please do not be shy if yes, I am super curious to read anything anyone has to say on the matter.


  1. i'm not sure if you follow Britt at House on a Hill, but she just mused on this exact subject earlier in the week here with a fairly lively comments thread:

    it's not something i understand very well, but i enjoy reading about it and seeing all the different perspectives. seems one of the biggest concerns was whether these clones would likely cause more inbreeding...

    1. Sadly I don't follow her blog (yet) - shall check out the post now. Thanks for the heads up ☺

  2. It is a bag of mixed feelings for me as well. Science--very cool. More horses and who knows their future --eh.... I'm also interested to see how the clones do performance wise when they have had different nurture/environment factors. Or will nature/DNA preserve ?

    1. I too am really curious about that & admire the owner "breeder" for refusing to jump them till they are finished growing. Too many people jump horses too high to young for young animal classes which must be doing untold damage to growing limbs *sads*

  3. The idea of cloning really freaks me out! I kind of wish that money could be spent in other areas (curing equine diseases etc).

    1. I guess cloning stem cells helps equine research for cures...but that isn't what this is i don't think :-(

  4. What a great post! It really ticks all the boxes. I would say I hshare the same concerns and doubts you posted. Although we know a lot more than we once did, I think we are still too far away from a full understanding of DNA to begin creating life. Shouldn't we be concentrating on solving some of the problems that already exist? Rather than creating desginer animals? And possibly introducing MORE problems? It reminds me of Jeff Bloomberg's speech in Jurassic Park - "Life Finds a Way..." for good or for bad!

    1. Welcome to my corner of the Internet Shauna, thanks for your comment. Glad I'm not alone in my randomly thrown together post of concerns & questions

  5. this is super scary and very intriguing at the same time. We have come far with technology but I believe that when you have a great horse, no matter what, you cannot get the same results. The exciting thing about doing ways naturally is when the underdogs fight their way up i reckon.

    There still has to be more research with regards to performance and health as they grow older. It is kind of sad i must admit.

  6. I've always been undecided about cloning too... Especially breeding them before they even perform...

    There is one thing I've always been curious about... You know how when they do research on something such as the effect of exercise on young horses and they use a bunch of different horses... Some of them sit in a stall, some are out on pasture and some are forced to exercise then they compare the results... I've always thought research would be more accurate if they were using clones. Then they would basically be using the same horse in all three scenarios. It kind of takes some of the variables out. I always think if one of the horses was injured was it because of the exercise in the study or was it a genetic problem? If they used clones it seems there would be a lot less what ifs. Does that make any sense?

    1. What am intriguing & interesting idea! Pity cloning is so still so expensive thsr imagine such resting is still a long way off.

  7. P.S. having said that I don't know if I even like the idea of cloning specifically for research.... I can see the benefits and how much we could learn from doing it... But it's kind of like with animal testing... It just doesn't seem right... Yeah I'm very conflicted on the whole thing.


I love to hear from readers, thank you for your comment :-)