Following the Fédération Equestre Internationale Bureau’s spring meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, the FEI announced that cloned horses may now compete in international competitions, including the Olympics. This decision reverses the organization’s position in 2007, when it said that,
“The competitive equestrian couple of horse and rider are both acknowledged as athletes by the FEI. The cloning of either with a view to competing at international level would be unacceptable to the FEI. The FEI opposes cloning for it goes against one of the FEI’s basic objectives: to enable FEI athletes to compete in international events under fair and even conditions.”
There are no cloned horses competing in this year’s Olympic games. In fact, most of the horses that have been cloned to date are being used for breeding. For example, Hugo Simon’s Grand Prix Jumper ET was cloned (ET was gelded as a three year old) and two clones of the famous jumper Gem Twist are now standing at stud. As Cryozootech stated on its website regarding the clone of Pieraz,
“This horse is not made for performing but for transmitting the genes of PIERAZ to future generations of performers. For this purpose one can be affirmative: he will transmit exactly the same genes as PIERAZ would have, if he had not been castrated.”
Allowing cloned horses to compete raises a lot of questions. It is not out of the question that you could have clones competing against each other — there is a Quarter Horse, for example that has five clones. That has a real “through the looking glass” quality to it.
What do you think about cloning horses? Does it raise ethical issues for competition? Will it adversely affect breeding (everyone might want their own Gem Twist or ET)? Or will it not have all that much impact? Certainly there is more to the creation of a champion than just bloodlines and it looks like we will have the opportunity to see how it plays out.