Noted Equine Reproduction Researcher Dr. Michelle LeBlanc Dies
Dr. LeBlanc was for many years associated with the University of Florida, having been their Director of the Equine Research Program. More recently, Dr. LeBlanc had been working at Rood & Riddle Veterinary Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, who last month renamed their equine reproduction center the "LeBlanc Reproduction Center". Among many honours received by Dr. LeBlanc, she was named 2000 Theriogenologist of the Year and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Equine Veterinary Association in 2011.
Dr. LeBlanc, who died on Saturday of ovarian cancer, which she had been battling for several years, was 58. A fund has been established by the Theriogenology Foundation to honour LeBlanc's legacy. It is the organizers hope that the fund will become large enough to establish an endowment fund in order to honour her in perpetuity. Donations in LeBlanc's memory or honour can be sent to The Theriogenology Foundation, P.O. Box 3007, Montgomery, AL 36109, USA.
Are Clones Fertile? Well Yes They Are!Cloning history has been made with the birth of a foal in Texas. The as yet un-named filly shown at left was born April 10th and is by a clone of a World Champion Quarter Horse gelding "Go Wild" out of a clone of a 3 time World Champion Quarter Horse mare, "Spring Fling", who had been unable to produce a foal of her own. This is the first recorded instance of a foal being produced by a clone and out of a clone.
Equine-Reproduction.com To Present at CFERWe are pleased to announce that Equine-Reproduction.com's Jos Mottershead has been again invited to present at the Colloquium For Equine Reproduction being hosted by the British Society for Animal Science and being held at Nottingham University on 17th April.
The Colloquium is in its fourth season and combines an ability to present new scientific information to veterinarians, students and the public with an opportunity for veterinarians, researchers and breeders to meet and discuss ongoing issues and needs related to the subject. More details are available by following the linked image to the left.
Plaintiff in Failed Australian AI Case to Seek Leave to AppealLawyers for Australian Thoroughbred AI litigant, Bruce McHugh, have made application to lodge an appeal against the judgment. McHugh's lawsuit, an attempt to require the Australian Jockey Club to permit the use of artificial insemination (AI) in the breed failed just before Christmas. The request will be made before three Federal Court Judges and the decision should be handed down in short order.
Horse breeders worldwide will be interested to see if the Court will allow a review of the case, thereby possibly reopening the doors to end what many - both within and outside the Thoroughbred industry - perceive as an archaic restriction. Others will however consider this as a prospective new threat to the traditions of the industry.
CEM Outbreak in California Expands to Multiple HorsesOIE have announced that the CEM situation in California that initially involved a single Lusitano mare has expanded and currently involves 12 animals - ten stallions and two mares. The "index mare" (the mare originally identified as infected) had been bred using both live cover and AI methods to a 20 year old Lusitano stallion which has now been tested positive for presence of the CEM-causing organism Taylorella equigenitalis. This stallion was imported in 2003. While details are limited, the fact that so many stallions are immediately considered at risk and that AI has been used to breed the mare suggests that a semen collection facility or breeding farm may be at the center of focus as the location common to all animals. In 2008 a similar situation occurred where the point of transfer between stallions was thought to possibly be the breeding mount used for semen collection. Many semen collection facilities now routinely wrap the back of the mount with disposable plastic wrap which is changed between each collection involving different stallions, or alternatively wash down the mount after each collection.
Mare Tests Positive for CEMO in CaliforniaThe OIE (Office International des Epizooties - the World Organisation for Animal Health) today reported that a 17 year-old Lusitano mare located in the Fresno region of California (USA) has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis. It is reported that the bacterium was identified in a pre-breeding evaluation and that there has been limited breeding exposure not known at this time to have involved any horses outside California. The mare has been placed in quarantine and treatment commenced.
This latest case has not been linked to previous outbreaks at this time, but will certainly represent a concern to US horse breeders who had been hoping to see a possible reduction in restrictions placed on shipping semen to Canada following the outbreak in 2009.
Australian Court Hands Down Thoroughbred AI DecisionAlmost a year to the day after final arguments were presented, Mr. Justice Robertson has handed down his long-awaited decision.
In a case that has been before the Australian courts for several years, lawyers for Bruce McHugh - a Thoroughbred breeder and past chairman of the Sydney Turf Club - argued that the Australian Jockey Club's refusal to register Thoroughbred foals produced through artificial insemination represented a restraint of trade and a breach of the Trade Practices Act. Supporters of the Jockey Club's stance argued that the ban kept Australian Thoroughbred breeding on a par with International Thoroughbred standards. The hearings took place in September and October of 2011 and involved over 40 witnesses. Final arguments were presented in December of that year, and the Judge withheld his decision until today...
Mr. Justice Robertson's judgment presented today found in favour of the defendants, The Australian Jockey Club Ltd., et al, indicating that a refusal to register foals produced as a result of AI was not a restriction of trade. The decision will come as a relief to the defendants as well as to some Australian Thoroughbred breeders, who saw the action as a threat to International recognition and Registry reciprocity of the Thoroughbred produced in Australia.
While McHugh's case focussed on a restraint of trade argument, it is surprising that the vocal Australian animal rights movements - which has succeeded in causing a ban on racing over fences in most Australian States and of Steeplechasing in the State of Victoria - have not questioned the welfare of stallions that are obliged to breed as many as 250-300 mares a year by live cover, and this in some cases in less than a six-month period. Some of those stallions breed that many mares or more when placed in a "shuttle" situation, moving from the Northern hemisphere's February to June breeding season to a repetition in the Southern hemisphere's August to December season. The stress placed on some of these stallions can be considered to be significant, and if the Thoroughbred industry does not police itself in the matter, it should be a concern for all - inside and outside the Thoroughbred industry - that at some point it will be policed for them by others. AI would have seemed a simple solution, with the ability to breed multiple mares from a single ejaculate, as well as the use of cooled or frozen semen which can be shipped within the country or Internationally.
So for the moment, the Status Quo remains, but for how much longer, one has to wonder...
FEI Changes Position on Clones in CompetitionAt it's Spring Meeting held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the 8-9 June, the FEI reversed it's previous decision to not allow clones in competition. The following statement was issued: "The FEI will not forbid participation of clones or their progenies in FEI competitions. The FEI will continue to monitor further research, especially with regard to equine welfare."
As a variety of past competition horses have already been cloned, we applaud the decision, and look forward to some interesting competitions in the future involving clones!
There has as yet been no further decision made by the AQHA or the courts on the issue of the AQHA registering cloned Quarter Horses.
Clones, AI and LawsuitsAt almost the same time as the FEI was presenting their position objecting to the use of cloned horses in competition, the AQHA was receiving notification of a court action opposing that organization's refusal to register cloned Quarter Horses.
The case has been brought against AQHA by Texas breeder Jason Abraham and his companies "Abraham and Veneklasen Joint Venture" and "Abraham Equine Inc.". The argument they are presenting is that by refusing to register cloned Quarter Horses - despite the DNA clearly demonstrating that they are indeed genetically Quarter Horses - the AQHA is violating the Sherman Antitrust Act as well as the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Since 2008, the AQHA have formed committees to consider rule changes to allow cloning, as well as the stud book committee itself considering those changes. The Association has consistently denied any rule change that would permit the registration of cloned Quarter Horses. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the case means to the FEI, as reining - which predominantly involves Quarter Horses - is now included as an FEI sport.
It has always been the position of Equine-Reproduction.com LLC that breeds and registries should register cloned animals by issuing the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456a would be the first clone of animal 123456; 123456b the second and so on). The cloned animals would also be required to be microchipped, and any record-related work (e.g. competition or breeding) be confirmed as to which animal was involved at the time of the action by reading the microchip.
Regardless of the "ethical" arguments - and those opposing cloning often tend to be somewhat ethereal and not scientifically-based - a failure to register clones by a breed or registry is potentially encouraging fraud on the part of it's membership - and that is always a bad policy for a breed organisation! This problem in particular surrounds the cloned stallion, as a foal produced from semen from a cloned stallion will carry the exact same DNA as if the foal was produced from semen from the original (the donor) stallion. The potential for abuse if a stallion dies or goes sterile is obvious.
On another lawsuit front involving assisted reproductive technology, the decision in McHugh v. Australian Jockey Club Ltd. should be imminent, the closing arguments having been made in December last year. This case involves the Thoroughbred industry's insistence that no A.I. be permitted to produce a Thoroughbred horse. The arguments opposing the use of AI are typically specious and the welfare of a Thoroughbred stallion that is required to service as many as 300 mares by live cover each year has to be questioned. The international implications of a finding in favour of McHugh in this case are significant.
Stay tuned as we will report the progress and decisions on both cases as we hear them!
CEM Outbreaks in England and IrelandThere are currently two ongoing outbreaks of CEM (Contagious Equine Metritis) within the UK and Ireland. The first - initially identified on 28/03/2012 - involves a mare in Berkley and a stallion in North Nibley (both Gloucestershire). The animals are undergoing treatment and tracebacks are being sought. The second outbreak (identified 26/04/2012) is in Doughiska, Galway, Ireland, where 2 stallions have so far tested positive for CEMO and multiple mares that have been bred to them are being checked.
For more information about CEM, please review this article on our site.
Pat Burns PhDIt was with the deepest regret that Equine-Reproduction.com LLC recently learned of the death of equine reproduction physiologist and researcher, Pat Burns PhD.
Pat graduated from Michigan State University and went on to obtain his Master's and PhD from the University of Kentucky. A researcher in biorelease drug technology, he operated Burns Biosolutions Inc. and Biorelease Technologies, producing several carrying agents that were important for the time-release of a variety of reproductive drugs, including Deslorelin and Oxytocin. The recently FDA-approved Deslorelin product "Sucromate Equine" was one of many products that was developed - at least in it's early stages - by Pat. Dr. Burns was also closely affiliated with the compounding pharmacy BET Pharm (Lexington, KY) where his biorelease agents are frequently used.
Well respected in the equine reproductive scientific community, Pat Burns was author or co-author of a huge number of scientific papers and book chapters. Frequently attending and presenting at Scientific meetings worldwide, he was a perfect fount of equine reproductive knowledge, with an ever-active mind exploring new concepts and technologies in the field. One example of what is now a standard of the industry that Pat worked on in it's early years is Computer-Assisted-Semen-Analysis ("CASA") - and even though that work was performed years ago, only last year Pat was still exploring new CASA possibilities.
Pat who died in January, is survived by his wife of 32 years Suzanne and three daughters, as well as siblings and nephews and nieces. He will be missed by many.
Equine-Reproduction.com LLC Pleased to Assist in the Promotion of the Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc.As previously announced, Avalon Equine and Equine-Reproduction.com LLC are working together to promote another fund-raising raffle to aid equestrians or equestrian organizations who have experienced difficulties or setbacks. The next recipient is to be Colorado State University's Equine Reproduction Laboratory, which suffered a destructive fire earlier this year. In order to achieve a more efficient fund raising and promotional program, a separate not-for-profit entity has been created and named the Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc. ("LEAP").
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In our ongoing efforts to assist breeders with directing access to good quality and well priced equine reproduction equipment, we are able to offer a listing of reconditioned equine reproduction ultrasounds for sale at affordable prices direct from Universal Ultrasound.
Equine reproduction topics covered in our articles section on this site include artificial insemination (A.I.); information about, and the use of frozen semen; stallion handling articles, including "phantom mare" training, and other semen collection methods; the collecting and processing of cooled transported semen; different equipment and supplies needed for semen collection and processing, and artificial insemination; managing the mare for breeding (including hormonal manipulation and the use of other drugs such as Oxytocin); and some articles relative to foals and foaling.
It's our aim to bring you not only a wide selection of articles about both basic and advanced equine reproduction topics; but also a variety of links to sites containing more information about horse breeding. There is a book sale section where we list and review books on equine reproduction that are offered for sale there in association with Amazon.com. We also invite you to review our equine reproduction short course details, as well as stallion semen freezing and other services that Equine-Reproduction.com is pleased to be able to offer the horse-breeding public. Our bulletin board is an active community with a large membership that discusses and provides information on a wide variety of equine reproduction topics.
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