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Cloning Judgement Reversed - AQHA Able to Deny Registration of Cloned Quarter Horses

Upon appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the lower court which caused the AQHA to register clones or offspring of clones. This move will undoubtedly please some members of the Association - although evidence presented at the original hearings indicated that the majority of AQHA members were neither breeders nor interested - but it still leaves wide open the question of how the AQHA is going to avoid abuse of the Stud Book by the "illegal" use of semen from clones of stallions. One solution may be to require mitochondrial DNA recordation of all stallions, as unless a female sibling of the stallion's dam (or the dam herself) is used as the donor of the oocyte used in the cloning process, the mtDNA will not match the stallion's own mtDNA. Other breed registries have been involved in the investigation of mtDNA and rather surprising results have been presented, which indicate that maternal lines in some cases are not as "pure" as was thought! Hopefully this situation with the use of cloned semen will not arise in a hurry, nor will the AQHA's 75 year-old stud book be found to be compromised in the future if mtDNA evaluation becomes routine!

Australian Attempt to Modernize Thoroughbred Breeding Comes to an End

Four years ago, former Australian bookmaker Bruce McHugh started a crusade to attempt to end the Thoroughbred industry's ban on the use of artificial insemination as an accepted breeding technique. With Thoroughbreds, in order to be eligible for registration, a horse must have been produced using live-cover techniques. Among other matters, McHugh - and many others involved in the field of equine reproduction - argued that the restriction was archaic and not based upon sound scientific reasoning. It had been introduced in Australia in 1947 to avoid incorrect - either intentional or accidental - replication of bloodlines owing to the misuse of collected semen. With the advent of DNA testing, McHugh pointed out that it was easy to determine if the sire was indeed the sire of record. Most other breeds and registries that utilize AI require DNA testing, so parentage verification protocols are well-proven and clearly definitive.

As we have previously reported, the case which was heard in 2011 was finally adjudicated upon in December of 2012, at which time the Courts found for the Defendants, concluding that McHugh's arguments carried no - or insufficient - merit. Undaunted, McHugh appealed, but was again shot down with a judgement against him handed down in April of 2014. Not yet prepared to "roll over and play dead", McHugh sought special leave to appeal from Australia's High Court, but yesterday was denied that opportunity by the Court.

While McHugh acknowledges that his own attempts are at an end - after spending millions of dollars - he also observes that the subject is unlikely to die. It is an emotive subject, but one which carries a pretty clear scientific base in favour of AI, and would potentially prevent the need for "shuttle stallions" being transported from Northern Hemisphere to Southern and back for a year-round breeding season, as well as preventing the need for stallions to breed multiple mares day after day, both of which can be decidedly stressful on the animal.

The aspect of DNA-testing is clear cut as far as parentage verification is concerned, but even that issue may be more complicated for all breeds and registries if the subject of mitochondrial DNA-testing is considered. MtDNA looks solely at DNA inherited from the dam - which is only passed through the direct female line - and has been used recently to show that the likelihood of the famous 19th Century Thoroughbred racehorse Ben d'Or was in fact most likely not that horse, but in fact one called Tadcaster. While this supposed error was allegedly as a result of accidental foal-swapping, investigation of all MtDNA is quite likely to result in other errors being identified - and remember this was at a time when live cover was the only option - so one has to wonder at the continued arguments being offered. There is no doubt that "round two" with a different set of protagonists will occur, the only question being when.

New "Cloning" Research with an Interesting Twist Released

Nuclear vs mtDNA TransmissionUp until now, in most cases there has been a way to differentiate - using DNA profiling - between a donor animal and a clone of that animal. The differentiation can be made by looking at the Mitochondrial DNA of the animal in question. The important things to remember are that there are two forms of DNA to consider - Nuclear DNA and Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) - and that in respect to the latter, it can only be passed down to the next generation by the female. To the left are a pair of slides ("click" to enlarge) we used to demonstrate that at the lecture we gave at the American Hanoverian Society's AGM a few months ago. It's really very simple, but often causes confusion. The red lines in the diagram are the mtDNA being transmitted - the mares are to the right in the "pedigree" - while the blue lines are the Nuclear DNA. As you can see, both sire and dam transmit nuclear DNA, but only the dam can transmit the mtDNA. If the offspring to which the mtDNA is transmitted is male, then the transmission stops there.

So with cloning (the type of which that is used for the equine is technically called "Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer") an oocyte - any suitable oocyte - is taken and "enucleated", or has the nuclear DNA removed. Without getting too technical, the mtDNA from the oocyte remains, but doesn't (as far as we know) provide any characteristics related to the next generation, but is primarily associated with energy for the whole cell division (or fertilisation) process. The donor DNA is then placed within that enucleated oocyte and undergoes a process to convince the cell that it's just been fertilised. Cell division starts and in due course we hope, along comes a (DNA) replica of the DNA donor - except, in most cases, for the mtDNA. Because the mtDNA came from a completely different source (the oocyte that was used) than did the original donor's mtDNA (which would have come from his Dam's oocyte), if the clone's mtDNA is looked at, then it will be different from the DNA donor's mtDNA, so the differentiation can be made.

Where it gets tricky is if the "new" clone is male. If that stallion goes on to breed, there is no way to differentiate between an offspring of the original DNA donor, and an offspring of the clone, because the mtDNA would - in that offspring - have come from its Dam, not the (clone) Sire. This is the reason why we strongly encourage breed registries to record clones in some way so that there is not a "ringer" throw into the mix at some point - but that's another discussion for a different day...

So on to the twist...

A paper that is due to be published in the Theriogenology Journal (Choi Y., Ritthaler J., Hinrichs K. Production of a mitochondrial-DNA identical cloned foal using oocytes recovered from immature follicles of selected mares, Theriogenology, Article in press May 2014) reports on work that has been done where the oocytes that were used for the cloning process were taken from close female maternal line relatives - in one instance a cousin (a female offspring of a female sibling of the DNA donor's dam) and in another instance, a second cousin (a female offspring of a female offspring of a female sibling of the DNA donor's dam). As a consequence, the resulting foal (ultimately there was only one) had identical DNA - both nuclear and mtDNA - to the original DNA donor.

This has several interesting implications. Obviously the first is that it is now possible to replicate an animal that - at this time - we cannot differentiate genetically from the original; the second is that it opens the door to further research as to what effect - if any - the mtDNA truly does have on phenotype and performance in the equine.

AQHA Required to Register Clones

In a ruling handed down today, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson required the AQHA to commence registering clones of registered American Quarter Horses and their offspring 30 days from the time the injunction is signed, which could occur this week. Plaintiffs Jason Abrahams and Gregg Veneklasen are delighted with the result which will allow them to register their 20 clones as well as future animals, however the AQHA is still resisting the decision and still intends to "continue to take any and all necessary legal action in seeking to have the verdict of the jury and any judgment entered by the Court in favor of plaintiffs reversed".

AQHA Announces Plans to Appeal

In an announcement that will probably surprise few, AQHA have indicated their intent to appeal the ruling made two days ago that found the organization to be in contravention of antitrust ("restriction of trade") laws by not allowing the registration of clones.

While the cloning argument tends to raise hackles on both sides of the discussion, the fact is that cloning of equines is here whether one approves of it or not. This means that an organization that registers horses - any organization - would be well-advised to encompass a regulation that will protect its membership from potential fraudulent use of clones. A rule preventing registering clones unfortunately does not do that. If a stallion is cloned, there is currently no way to differentiate between a foal sired by the DNA donor stallion or the clone, so fraudulent use of semen could result in an organization unknowingly registering offspring of clones in their main stud book.

It has long been our view ('s) that registries as a whole - not just AQHA - should be prepared to register clones with the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456-a, 123456-b etc.), while at the same time microchipping all the animals involved (donor and clone[s]). Any work involving a recordable performance (competition, breeding etc.) would then require reading of the microchip to confirm identity. This will allow tracking of the clones and their genetic input, which is good from all perspectives of the argument - whether you agree with cloning or not.

AQHA Found to be Violating Texas State and Federal Antitrust Laws

After three days of deliberation, the five-woman, seven-man jury determined that the AQHA's Stud Book and Registration Committee and top AQHA officials violated two sections of the Sherman Antitrust Act ("restraint of trade") and Texas statutes by barring the plaintiffs' horses from its registry.

In 2012, Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen had worked on developing rules for the AQHA to allow the registration of offspring of clones. It had been thought that the proposed rule changes would be acceptable until the last moment when they were rejected. Subsequently he and rancher Jason Abraham of Canadian, TX sued the 280,000-member organization, seeking to overturn the association's Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004. While they have proven successful in their suit, it remains to be seen if AQHA will appeal the decision, or if further legal action will be required to oblige AQHA to actually implement a rule change. A similar situation occurred in 2000 when breeder Kay Floyd successfully sued the AQHA under the same statutes regarding limitation of registration of foals produced by embryo transfer. In that situation, although Floyd was successful, acceptance of registration of the foals was not immediately implicated and further legal work was required to enforce the results of the initial case.

Another "Equine Reproduction Notable" Leaves Us

Dr. James L. VossDr. James Voss, an icon of equine reproduction research and a pioneer in the modern reproductive research field died on Friday. Dr. Voss retired in 2001 as Dean of Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, a position he held for 15 years although his career at the University spanned 43 years having commenced in 1958. In 1977 Dr. Voss was instrumental in the ground-breaking for CSU's new facility that would ultimately bear his name - the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This facility has flourished over the years to become a leader in the field of equine reproductive research and treatment in addition to producing many notable Veterinarians.

In the 1990s, Dr. Voss became a "household name" in equine reproduction when he co-edited (with Dr. Angus McKinnon) what at that time became the definitive text book in the field: "Equine Reproduction" - commonly referred to by most users not by the title but as "McKinnon and Voss". Dr. Voss was a mentor to many and respected by many, many more for his abilities, knowledge and humour. Dr. Voss is survived by his wife, Kay, of Fort Collins; sons, Ed and Bill; and daughter, Laura.

A memorial service is set for 11am, Tuesday, July 16, at the Hilton Fort Collins, 425 W. Prospect Road. In lieu of flowers, the Voss family requests donations to the Colorado State University Equine Reproduction Laboratory. To donate, click here and select "Equine Reproduction Laboratory (ERL)"; or send a check payable to "CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory" to CVMBS Dean's Office, 1601 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1601, Attn: Dr. Voss - ERL.

Noted Equine Reproduction Researcher Dr. Michelle LeBlanc Dies

It is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of noted researcher and veterinarian, Dr. Michelle LeBlanc. Dr. LeBlanc was noted for her interest and research into mare infertility, late pregnancy problems - with a particular interest in placentitis - and embryo transfer. With much of her research being used on a daily basis today by equine reproductive veterinarians world-wide, Dr. LeBlanc performed and published valuable research into the use and effect of oxytocin to assist pregnancy establishment and maintenance in mares with uterine clearance issues.

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!

Clone x Clone = Clone!Clone x Clone = Clone!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.
4/12/2013 To Present at CFER

CFERWe are pleased to announce that'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 Appeal

Lawyers 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 Horses

OIE 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 California

The 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 Decision

Almost 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 Competition

At 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 Lawsuits

At 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 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 Ireland

There 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 PhD

Pat Burns PhDIt was with the deepest regret that 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.
3/8/2012 LLC Pleased to Assist in the Promotion of the Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc.

As previously announced, Avalon Equine and 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").

Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc.
Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc. Raffle Horse
The foal being raffled in the upcoming draw (which will be held February 14, 2012) is the 2011 chestnut Oldenburg colt "Beetlejuice d'Avalon" seen at left (click on image to enlarge). He is inspected by, and registered with, the German Oldenburg Verband. With some of the best warmblood breeding available in North America, he is by the stunning Hanoverian stallion, Black Tie and out of Avalon Equine's best warmblood mare, Morticia. This colt combines some of the best jumping, dressage and hunter bloodlines and should excel in whatever discipline are chosen.

Beetlejuice is located in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, so the winning ticket holder will need to arrange transport from there. In the event the winner does not wish to own the foal, they will have the option of donating the foal back to the Leg-Up Equestrian Aid Foundation, Inc. and an online auction will be held with the proceeds from that auction going back to the Foundation. More details about the foal, raffle and ticket purchases are available through the Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance Program, Inc.'s website.
12/11/2011 LLC to Present at the Colloquium for Equine Reproduction

We are pleased to announce that LLC's Jos Mottershead will be one of the presenters at the Colloquium for Equine Reproduction to be held at Hereford racecourse in the United Kingdom on October 29th, 2011. Jos will be presenting on subject matter related to the stallion. Other scheduled presenters include Dr Jenny Ousey (Assessment of Fetal Health in the Pregnant Mare); Dr Julia Kydd (Formation of the equine placenta and the immune response); Mr John Spencer (Potential research to support mare practice); Mrs Emma Tomlinson (Potential research to support embryo transfer practice)*. More information can be obtained from the above link or by reviewing this flyer.

The aim of the Colloquium - the second to be held - is to create a centre of gravity for a diverse range of mammalian/equine reproduction academics, horse breeders (from both large and small commercial stud farms), veterinarians and students to create a synergistic network of contacts and collaborators and to facilitate structured discussion. Last year's Colloquium hosted by Aberystwyth University was deemed to be a success with over 100 delegates from around the world attending.
*All subject matter and speakers subject to change.
9/29/2011 LLC Expands Operations to Europe with Acquisition of Equine Reproduction Ltd. in the UK LLC is pleased to announce the acquisition of the English-based business Equine Reproduction Ltd. Previously managed by Jamie Anderson, who will remain in the position, Equine Reproduction Ltd has rapidly grown in the last four years to become one of England's leading equine semen freezing operations. In 2010, Equine Reproduction Ltd exported the most number of semen doses of any UK-based semen processing company. LLC is an American-based company offering a broad range of equine reproduction related services including semen freezing and embryo transfer. It is known world-wide for it's informational web site and in several countries including the UK, for it's informative shortcourses about equine reproduction. The combined businesses - which will operate in Europe under the LLC banner - will initially be offering mobile semen freezing services and equine reproduction management advice and training, as well as educational services in the form of the shortcourses, the next one of which will be scheduled early in 2012.

President of LLC, Jos Mottershead - who was born and brought up in England - said: "We have long been desirous of expanding into the European market, having been able to just touch the surface with offering Defra-approved AI training courses in the UK. The acquisition of Equine Reproduction Ltd. seemed a logical next step towards increasing the availability of our services world-wide. We are thrilled that this has come together and look forward to being able to assist British and European breeders more extensively. From a personal perspective, it is also of course a delight to be able to bring our business to my homeland".
9/15/2011 LLC Announces Fund Raising Raffle to Benefit CSU's Fire-Ravaged ERL

CSU ERL FireFollowing in the footsteps of last year's successful raffle of the warmblood foal Adieu d'Avalon to benefit injured Olympiad Courtney King Dye, LLC is pleased to announce that it will be working with Avalon Equine to promote the raffle of another warmblood foal bred by Avalon Equine, with the proceeds this year going to the Equine Reproduction Laboratory (ERL) at Colorado State University, which recently experienced a disastrous fire that gutted the building and destroyed years of research and equipment.

More details of the raffle will follow shortly!

World-renowned Equine Reproduction Research Laboratory at CSU Destroyed by Fire

The Equine Reproduction Laboratory at the Foothills Campus of Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins was destroyed by fire early Tuesday morning. One report estimated damage at twelve million dollars, however CSU officials have not indicated the value of the loss. Fortunately no humans or horses were injured, however the potential loss of data and ongoing research equipment cannot possibly have a dollar value placed upon it. The Equine Reproduction Research Facility at CSU has been a world-leader in research for many years, having been responsible for the development of many ground-breaking procedures in embryo transfer and semen freezing in more recent years, and basic equine AI and semen collection and handling techniques during the dawn of artificial insemination in the equine. CSU spokeswoman Dell Rae Moellenbert said that it was not clear what the long-term impact would be on the facility, but that in the short term, day-to-day work at the laboratory would be relocated. It is not known how much data or research may have been lost.

New Case of CEM Identified in Arizona, USA

Identification of a new case of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) was announced today by the Arizona Department of Agriculture. It is reported that a 4 year-old Arabian stallion located in Maricopa County AZ was being tested for international semen transport when it was identified as carrying the CEM causative agent Taylorella equigenitalis. Five other contact horses are currently being tested and are under quarantine, although farm records suggests that animals in three different States are likely to be involved in immediate contact traceback testing.

EVA Outbreak in France

Two farms in south-eastern France have been involved in an outbreak of Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), a disease not seen in that country since 2007. The affected farms breed Lusitano horses near Marseille and Montpellier. A stallion, several mares and a deceased neonate were identified as carrying the virus in late June. Currently it appears that the outbreak is limited, although other contact horses originating from the farms are being tested. The initial source of the virus has not been identified.

OIE Reports Epidemiological Investigation of US CEM Outbreak "Closed"

The World Organisation for Animal Health ("OIE") recently issued the following summary of the investigation into the two outbreaks of Contagious Equine Metritis and although a conclusive source has not been identified in the case of the larger (2008) outbreak, considers the investigation closed. With a lack of a confirmed source, and such a significant number of affected animals, it is unlikely that "CEM Free" status is to be reinstated (which would allow dropping of import restrictions by countries such as Canada) in the near future. The most likely source of the outbreak was identified as a stallion imported from Denmark in late 2000, but that is not absolutely confirmed.

All epidemiologically linked horses have been identified and all testing and treatment protocols have been conducted in accordance with Federal, International, and expert guidance and requirements. Summary of the CEM events:

Kentucky and Wisconsin Event Epidemiology Summary:
  • 23 stallions and 5 mares were confirmed as positive for Taylorella equigenitalis. All positive horses completed treatment and testing protocols and are negative for T. equigenitalis.
  • 977 horses potentially exposed to T. equigenitalis were quarantined and had testing protocols implemented. Even though considered low risk for T. equigenitalis infection, 29 horses (3% of horses quarantined) have not completed all testing protocols. All results on these horses have been negative, but they will remain under quarantine until testing is completed in full.
  • The 1,005 exposed or positive horses were found in 48 States and included 278 stallions and 727 mares.
  • None of the positive horses were definitively identified as the source of the outbreak. However, the results of the investigation of this case, including diagnostic and epidemiologic findings, suggest that a stallion imported from Denmark in late 2000 is the most likely source.
California Event Epidemiology Summary:
  • One stallion was confirmed as positive for T. equigenitalis. The positive stallion was identified during routine semen export testing. The positive stallion completed treatment and testing protocols and is negative for T. equigenitalis.
  • 5 stallions and 18 mares were epidemiologically identified as potentially exposed to T. equigenitalis. All potentially exposed horses were accounted for and testing protocols implemented. All results on these horses have been negative, but they will remain under quarantine until testing is completed in full.
  • There is no known relationship between the positive stallion and any horses involved in the Kentucky or Wisconsin outbreaks. Additional analysis indicated the T. equigenitalis isolate from the stallion is not related to other isolates previously found in the United States, and is not related to the Kentucky and Wisconsin outbreaks.
  • The results of the investigation of this case, including diagnostic and epidemiologic findings, indicate that the positive Arabian stallion was contaminated with T. equigenitalis prior to his arrival in the United States.
In addition to equine testing for T. equigenitalis related to the CEM event, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted a National Testing Project for CEM in 2010. Through the National Testing Project, 292 stallions in 28 States were tested for T. equigenitalis. The stallions tested in the project were not associated with any CEM outbreak, but were considered to otherwise be at highest risk for having T. equigenitalis because they were originally imported from outside the United States or are currently active breeding animals, or both. No positive stallions were detected.

The comprehensive epidemiological investigations of the Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) events in the United States are closed.

Interim Statement from CBSA Concerning "Valuation of Horse Semen" Document

We have received an interim clarification from Mr. Pierre Trudel, Manager of CBSA's Origin and Valuation Policy Unit. Upon his review of the document sent to many US horse breeders by the regional Windsor office of the CBSA - not from the CBSA National office (see below) - Mr. Trudel observed: "...we have determined that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will issue a National Customs Notice to clarify the question of customs valuation in the matter of equine semen importations". Mr. Trudel continued: "Based on my initial review of the document, I would like to clarify two points:
  • We understand these issues to be complex and it is our intention to work in cooperation and develop information that will clarify the importer's obligations in determining his/her customs value and that facilitates the declaration of a compliant value for duty. In this regard we hope to issue a National Customs Notice early in the new year.
  • We note that the following advice has been provided, and requires further clarification: 'Whether or not they are listed separately in the contract between the US vendor and Canadian purchaser, the following costs should be included in the calculation of the price paid or payable' (a list follows) [in the original document - see linked document in our article below]. Please note that when goods are sold for export to a purchaser in Canada and the price is known, the customs value is based on the price paid or payable for the imported goods with certain adjustments as required. In most cases, (and we will have to further develop this advice) no fees need be added to the price paid or payable for the goods other than those charged by the vendor and paid by the purchaser of the imported goods. For example, fees for booking, veterinary or other such fees are only included in the price paid or payable to the extent that they are charged by the vendor to the purchaser. Where the vendor absorbs certain costs and does not pass them on to the purchaser, they need not be added to the price paid or payable. While there could be various circumstances where this would not be the case, we will endeavor to develop examples that cover all possible major scenarios."
It has therefore been made clear to us at that CBSA intends to review and further clarify the Windsor-released document which contains errors and which should not be considered to be national policy. It is also clear that the national policy relating to valuation of equine semen being imported into Canada will undergo a review and guidelines covering the sometimes complicated valuation of the semen will be developed by CBSA and presented to breeders to assist in future valuations for import. We look forward to these clarifications and will present further information here once it becomes available.

CBSA "Responsibility of Vendors with Respect to Valuation of Horse Semen" Document

CBSA Document (1.42 meg)Some larger American horse breeding operations that had exported semen to Canada within the last few years recently received in the mail a communication from the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) entitled "Advice Sheet - Responsibility of Vendors with Respect to Valuation of Horse Semen". Contained within that document were instructions that semen shippers should follow in completing the Customs Invoice, indicating that they should provide information that purported to assist CBSA agents to better determine the true valuation of the semen being imported to Canada. Some of the information required seemed quite reasonable, and would have been included as a matter of course anyway - namely the value of the stud fee (i.e. essentially the value of the semen being exported). Other information that was also "required" however seemed of less import, including costs related to "Analysis and Laboratory Fees" and "DNA testing", and charges related to obtaining issuance of the USDA "US Origin Health Certificate for Export of Equine Semen to Canada" - including the cost of travel for the person travelling to the USDA office for endorsement of that document! Not surprisingly, this "official request" for this information has caused consternation within some quarters of the equine breeding community and has even caused some breeders - who have been facing compliance with the more complicated regulations put in place following the CEM outbreak - to make the decision to no longer ship semen to Canada.

A temporary clarification of the requirement for this information has been obtained by, pending further clarification which will be provided following an internal review by the CBSA Valuation Policy Department. Although this is not an official statement, this is the current official position:

The letter that was sent out to many US horse semen exporters was sent not by the national CBSA office, but solely by the Windsor, Ontario office. The policies and requirements set out in the document are therefore those of the Windsor office, and not national policy. In other words, at this time, the requirements would only apply in the event that semen was being shipped into Canada through the Windsor, Ontario office.

The document and it's requirements are being reviewed to determine the need for the contents both on a local and national level. As part of that review, there will also be discussion with CFIA to see if information requested therein is something that is likely to be required by them.

The CBSA Valuation Policy Manager will get back to us with an update, in all probability at some point early next week, at which time we will post more information here.

New Ovulation Promotor for Mares Approved by FDA in USA

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), "Ovuplant™", Recombinant LH, Biorelease Deslorelin... all have been used to good effect to promote timely ovulation in mares - some for many years, others more recently. Ovuplant™ was removed from the US market several years ago owing to problems experienced by some, and was largely replaced by compounded Deslorelin products such as biorelease Deslorelin produced by BET Pharmacy in Lexington, KY. A new product has now been approved by the FDA for use in the equine that will be likely to replace many of the current products including all the compounded Deslorelin products. SucroMate™ Equine - developed by Thorn BioScience LLC, a subsidiary of CreoSalus, Inc (Louisville, KY) - is likely to be available in the USA by the beginning of the 2011 breeding season. This is an FDA-approved controlled-release injectable Deslorelin acetate that is to be marketed and distributed in the US by Bioniche Life Sciences, a Canadian company, who also have the option for first rights for expansion of marketing into other territories. Research, testing and development of SucroMate™ by Thorn BioScience LLC has taken over a decade, and it was one of only 8 new FDA-approved animal health drugs in 2010.

Utah (USA) Implements New EVA Regulations

The State of Utah has initiated a new set of regulations pertaining to Equine Viral Arteritis and possible positive (shedding) stallions and infective semen. As of September 1st 2010, any stallion entering the State for breeding purposes must be tested within the 30 days prior to entry for Equine Arteritis Virus (EAV) presence. Stallions that test positive are only admitted upon issuance of a permit by the Utah Department of Agriculture and must immediately upon entry travel to and be located at a facility approved for the housing of EAV-positive stallions (an "approved facility"). They may only be subsequently moved to a different approved facility within the State upon receiving permission from the State Veterinarian. There are no restrictions or regulations at this time involving stallions that test negative on the pre-entry testing. Stallions that have proof of a negative EAV-antibody presence test prior to initial vaccination, along with proof of annual boosters, are exempt from the pre-entry testing requirements. This regulation applies to any "equine" or "equid" - they being defined as any animal in the family Equidae, including, but not limited to horses, asses, mules, ponies, and zebras

Equine semen from EAV-positive ("shedding") stallions shipped into Utah must be accompanied by a shipped semen permit, applications for which can be obtained from the Utah Department of Agriculture. This semen must also be shipped solely and directly to an approved facility and remain there until inseminated or disposed of, or until it is shipped to another in-State approved facility. "Approved facilities" have been issued a permit as having met the following requirements as required by the Utah Department of Agriculture:
  • All equids, including but not limited to stallions, mares and geldings, on approved facilities shall be vaccinated for EVA no less than 21 days before the start of breeding season or no less than 21 days before arriving at an approved facility.
  • Mares being bred to a carrier stallion, or inseminated with semen from a carrier stallion, shall remain on the approved facility for a minimum of 21 days after the initial breeding date.
  • Adequate biosecurity precautions shall be in place during the breeding season. The adequacy of biosecurity may be monitored periodically by the Utah Department of Agriculture.
Applications for approval of a facility for housing of positive stallions or semen from them can be obtained from the Utah Department of Agriculture web site at this location. Import permits may be obtained by calling the Utah Department of Agriculture at (801) 538-7164 during business hours (Monday-Thursday 7 AM - 6 PM, Mountain Time), or after hours and weekends by calling one of the current telephone numbers listed on-line at:

Horses upon entry into Utah (as is common in most States) may be subject to physical inspection and approval of associated paperwork at the Port of Entry or way-stations. In addition to the routinely-required Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (Health Certificate), negative EIA (Coggin's) test (taken within 12 months of time of entry) and proof of ownership or brand inspection certificate, stallions should now be accompanied by proof of negative EVA status or vaccination with annual boosters, or if a positive "shedding" stallion, a copy of the permit obtained from the Utah Department of Agriculture.

The entire Administrative Code - entitled "Rule R58-23. Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA)" - can be viewed on the Utah government website at this location.

Death of Noted Breeder and Trainer Doug Schembri

Doug SchembriIt is with sadness that we report the death of noted Florida breeder and trainer Doug Schembri on Tuesday, August 17th. Doug along with his wife Sue and family have hosted several short courses at their Myakka City Char-O-Lot Ranch, the latest having been just this last January, 2010.

Doug (along with the rest of his family) produced National and International champions in the Appaloosa, Quarter Horse and Paint breeds and was always a "force to be reckoned with" in the showing world! As a breeder, he stood some of the top-name stallions in the breeds and was renowned for his excellent "eye" for new prospects.

Initial reports via the Internet had suggested that Doug, aged 61, had died in a farm accident involving electricity, but this has been confirmed as not being the case, with heart disease being the cause of death.

A Celebration of Doug's Life is to be held at Char-O-Lot Ranch, 35750 Highway 70 East, Myakka City, FL 34251 on Sunday, August 22, 2010 - 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: The Manatee Community Foundation in Memory of Doug Schembri (payee for checks), 3105 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205.

We send our deepest condolences to the Schembris and mourn the loss of a good friend to ourselves and the industry.
USDA Update on Latest California CEMO-positive Stallion and Associated Mares
In May 2010, the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed that an Arabian stallion on a southern California premises was positive for Taylorella equigenitalis, the bacterium that causes contagious equine metritis (CEM). The NVSL also determined that the strain of the isolated bacterium does not match any T. equigenitalis strains previously found in the United States, indicating this case is not related to the CEM outbreak detected in December 2008.

The positive stallion was imported into the United States in March 2010 from a country not known to be affected by CEM. Although no definitive conclusions can yet be made as to the origin of this strain of T. equigenitalis, a thorough epidemiologic investigation is ongoing.

It has been determined that five other stallions, all on the same premises in southern California, were exposed to the positive stallion. Four (80 percent) of the five exposed stallions have completed their entire testing and treatment protocol and are negative for T. equigenitalis. The fifth stallion is under quarantine, but is currently receiving antibiotic treatments for an unrelated condition and is therefore not yet eligible to begin testing. The positive stallion has been treated and is now in the process of being retested.

A total of 18 mares in 7 States were also exposed to the positive stallion. Eleven (61 percent) of the 18 mares have completed testing and treatment and are negative for T. equigenitalis. Seven mares have not yet completed their testing.

An exposed horse is one that was bred to a positive horse, either naturally or via artificial insemination, or one that is otherwise epidemiologically linked to a positive horse, as determined by State and Federal animal health officials.
(Courtesy USDA); 08/01/10 Participates in British Horse Breeding Video Series
We were recently delighted to be involved with Pelion Stud and Equine Reproduction (UK) Ltd. in the production of a series of short videos providing some tips for horse breeders. The videos were prepared by HorseMart a British company offering a venue for equine related sales and information and can be viewed through their web site or via The following subject matter is covered: Pelion Stud is located near to Reading in Berkshire (England) and is the base location of Equine Reproduction (UK) Ltd., which is an Certified Semen Freezing Location. Pelion Stud and Equine Reproduction (UK) Ltd. also host our equine reproduction shortcourses in England each year.

USDA Voluntary CEMO Stallion Testing Program; New CEM Situation Update
In February 2010 USDA announced a cost-sharing voluntary CEM testing program for stallions resident in the USA. The intent was primarily to determine if there was an absence of the causative organism Taylorella equigenitalis in the domestic herd, or if it was found to be present to facilitate traceback ability and determine degree of prevalence. In order to achieve this level of testing, USDA shares the primary cost of the evaluation covering provision of swab and shipping materials, shipping costs and all lab costs for growing and reading the resulting cultures. The stallion owner is solely responsible for the veterinary costs of the swab collection (typically a call-out fee and time for the collection process which should require only a few minutes).

With the ongoing CEM outbreak that had the index case in Kentucky in December of 2008, the origin of which has yet to be established, and the newest threat presented with an imported Arabian stallion presenting a positive result for a strain of T. equigenitalis not related to the Kentucky incidence, American breeders have to take very seriously the need to identify possible positive carriers and ensure elimination of the organism from the resident horse population. Until this has been achieved and proven, restrictions related to cross-border shipments of semen and horses which have in some instances had a tremendous negative impact on available markets - the Canadian market being particularly affected - will remain in place. Many US stallion owners have simply ceased offering semen sales from their stallions to Canada owing to time and cost restraints of achieving the required paperwork in an adequate manner.

There is little doubt that the possibility of there still being CEMO-positive stallions unidentified in the horse population exists. This makes participation in the USDA testing scheme even more enticing, as if one is unfortunate enough to have a stallion test positive by USDA through this voluntary scheme, USDA will pick up all the subsequent treatment costs of the stallion and we have been advised, test-breeding of mares! The same does not happen if one is identified as having a CEMO-positive stallion without having participated in the voluntary scheme, for example through a traceback from other positive animals identified in the ongoing investigations. From an ethical standpoint, voluntary participation is of value because - as with EIA ("Coggin's") testing, the more horses that are tested, the less chance there is of having an unidentified positive (infectious) animal in the resident population.

More details of this voluntary testing scheme are available from your local USDA office, or in the .pdf articles to be downloaded from the USDA's website here. Note that the scheme is scheduled to close at the end of August 2010, so a rapid involvement is necessary! There are some restrictions as to what stallions may be eligible (for example stallions already tested within the last 6 month, or that are known contact animals of the current outbreaks are not eligible), but it certainly behoves USA breeders to either participate in this USDA scheme or follow Britain's HBLB protocols, although of course this latter route will cost more!

The current USDA update on the new instance of CEM in the Arabian stallion located in California indicates that the stallion was imported into the United States in March 2010 from a country not known to be affected by CEM. It is not yet known whether the imported stallion was positive at the time of his importation or was exposed after importation. In addition to the one positive stallion, another 22 horses have been exposed to T. equigenitalis through contact either with the stallion or other contact animals, the same facility or through shipped semen. The 23 horses are located in or are being traced to 7 States, including 6 exposed or positive stallions and 17 exposed mares.

New Case of CEM in USA Unassociated with Prior Outbreak
The OIE has reported that an 11 year-old imported Arabian stallion located in Santa Barbara County, California was confirmed culture positive by the USDA APHIS VS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for Taylorella equigenitalis, the bacterium that causes contagious equine metritis. The Taylorella equigenitalis confirmed positive animal is a clinically healthy stallion that was identified during routine semen export testing. Numbers reported for susceptible horses are preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues.

The following information was also provided:
  • 20 May 2010: The NVSL confirmed one stallion in Santa Barbara County, California, positive for Taylorella equigenitalis, the bacterium that causes contagious equine metritis, during routine semen export testing.
  • 26 May 2010: Additional analysis indicated the Taylorella equigenitalis isolate from the stallion is not related to other isolates previously found in the United States, and is not related to the Kentucky and Wisconsin outbreaks.
It is not clear at this time how many contact animals are involved, as the initial report identifies only the index animal. Unconfirmed reports via the Internet have suggested that the stallion had initially been imported for competition purposes but that semen had been shipped to mares while in the USA, and that 21 or more additional animals may be involved at this time.

CFIA Clarifies Reported Change in Semen Import Protocols
A CFIA spokesperson has clarified for us that the AIRS-notified change to the semen import protocol (reported below) was in fact a wording change to reflect not the routine importation - which remains unchanged - but what CBSA should do in the event that paperwork accompanying the shipment was incorrect or absent. The CFIA spokesperson went on to observe that "What is seen as a requirement is actually meant as the title to a new section. When AIRS is opened, this new section lists under what circumstances the semen is referred to CFIA. So the wording was added to AIRS, but the process was always the same... The wording of the AIRS notification is ambiguous, to say the least", but went on to confirm that there had been no changes in the process.

Minor Change in US-origin Equine Semen Canadian Import Protocol - Possible Delay Causer?
CFIA today announced a change in the import protocol for semen originating from other countries including the USA. Following the restrictions implemented as a result of the CEM outbreak in the USA, equine semen - both cooled and frozen - from that country has been subject to inspection and additional paperwork requirements at the time of import. The inspection has been performed by Canada Border Services Agency ("CBSA" - formerly "Canada Customs"). The following statement was issued today by CFIA Airs (Canadian Food Inspection Agency Automated Import Reference System):

a) Chapter 05 was published to add the recommendation "Refer to CFIA - Veterinary inspection" for frozen semen from various countries. Frozen bovine semen Animal semen (other than bovine) - frozen

b) Chapter 05 was published to add the recommendation "Refer to CFIA - Veterinary inspection" for fresh horse semen from the United States.

This indicates that instead of the semen and associated paperwork being inspected by a regular customs agent, it will have to be referred to the CFIA veterinary inspection agent. It is unclear at this time if this is going to cause additional potential for delays or other problems.
05/19/10 Expands Operations to Europe; Shipped Semen in Europe Experiences Volcanic Problems!
We are pleased to announce the approval of an Certified Semen Freezing Location for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Equine-Reproduction (UK) owned and operated by Jamie Anderson from Pelion Stud is located just outside Reading, Berkshire England. A variety of services are offered, including semen freezing in accordance with our Certified Semen Freezing Location policies. Personnel from are regularly in the United Kingdom and are pleased to be able to provide our services to European customers through this facility.

Horse breeders using transported semen in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe are currently experiencing difficulties with transport of all products - including semen - by airline owing to the volcanic eruption in Iceland shutting down almost all commercial airline traffic. Jamie Anderson comments: "The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has been causing problems within the European breeding industry. The volcanic ash cloud from the eruption has led to the closure of all UK airports since Thursday this week, causing a huge disruptions for chilled and frozen semen coming into and out of the country".

"A number of breeders across the UK have been trying to order chilled semen from stallions like Baloubet du Rouet and Canturo from Belgium, and Jaguar Mail from France but the shipment of chilled semen across Europe has all but ceased because of the ash cloud. Luckily, we have been able to meet UK demands for these stallions as we hold a stock of their frozen semen".

"We are also able to send frozen semen out by road and sea, because of the hugely extended 'shelf-life' of cryopreserved sperm cells. Frozen semen has been a real life-saver in this situation. It has allowed UK and European breeders to continue with their breeding programmes without incurring the veterinary costs of wasted oestrus cycles".

CEM Outbreak in USA Still Producing "New" Cases
This week sees the announcement by USDA of a 23rd stallion - a Holsteiner - to test positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM). This is the tenth stallion to test positive in the State of Wisconsin and was located at the same breeding facility as ten of the other stallions that have tested positive, although four of those stallions were found positive when residing in a different State. This newly-found positive stallion has been shown to be carrying the same strain of CEMO as has been identified in all of the other positive stallions (and the five positive mares) and it has consequently been tied to the same outbreak. The delay in the identification of this new positive horse is as a result of the owner being reluctant to have the stallion tested, although the horse has been in quarantine said Wisconsin State Veterinarian Robert Ehlenfeldt, DVM. Fortunately other stallion owners have been supportive of attempts to identify and clear all sources of the bacteria in the breeding population and James Barrett, public affairs specialist at the USDA, observed that the extensive outbreak was "winding down" with only a few exposed horses remaining to be tested.

In an apparently unrelated outbreak, the United Kingdom has identified 3 horses - one 7 year-old non-Thoroughbred mare, one 5 year-old Arab stallion and one 10 year-old Highland mare - as being positive for CEMO presence since October 2009. These are considered separate cases and the investigation of the latter two are ongoing by Defra, although the Arab stallion originated from another EU member State. The case involving the Highland mare was only confirmed on March 22nd, 2010. The United Kingdom is fortunate in that many breeders adhere to the voluntary guidelines for pre-breeding testing of horses set out by the British Horse Racing Betting Levy Board - something that breeders in the USA would be well advised to follow in view of the possibility of still unidentified positive animals being in the breeding population.

Loss of Another Top Equine Reproductive Veterinarian
Dr. John P. Hurtgen, a leading exponent of equine embryo transfer, died early this morning (February 17th) while helping a mare to foal at his Nandi Farm in Pennsylvania. Dr. Hurtgen, 62, is reported to have collapsed while assisting in the foaling, and a heart attack is suspected.

More than 100 mares reside at Hurtgen's Nandi Farm, including some used exclusively as recipient mares for ETs. In addition the farm stands stallions - in particular the Standardbred stallions Tom Ridge, Quik Pulse Mindale, Nuclear Breeze, Garth Vader and Lear Jetta. Dr. Hurtgen's wife, Linda, sought to assure the industry that Nandi Farm's commitment to and participation in Standardbred breeding will continue, though it will no longer perform embryo transfers.

We offer our deepest condolences to Dr. Hurtgen's family on their loss of this respected leader in the equine reproductive industry.

Breakthrough in Equine Reproduction: Live Foal Born after Embryo Biopsy, Vitrification and Transfer
Biopsita - the first biopsied and vitrified foalMinitube International has achieved a scientific breakthrough that will allow for genetic testing and preservation of equine embryos. The world's first foal from a biopsied and vitrified embryo transferred into a surrogate mare was born on Wednesday January 27, 2010 at Minitube International Center for Biotechnology in Mount Horeb, WI. Both the mother "Lola" and foal are doing well. The birth of "Biopsita" marks a new era in horse breeding, providing horse breeders with an opportunity to directly test embryos for genetic traits including gender, coat color, genetic diseases, etc., and select desirable genetics from stallion and mare combinations. The study will be presented at the 10th International Symposium on Equine Reproduction being held in Kentucky this July.

According to Mats Troedsson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT the Director of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Director of Equine Research for Minitube International, "Embryo transfer and cryopreservation have been steadily gaining traction in equine reproduction as the technology further develops and the equestrian community adjusts registry requirements. But the ability to genetically screen an equine embryo before transfer would change horse breeding as we know it today. The economics would just make sense."

To make Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) or genetic screening of an equine embryo practical, the embryo needs to be biopsied, vitrified and later transferred into a recipient. Dr. John Dobrinsky, PhD, the Executive Director of the Minitube International Center for Biotechnology, credits his team and Minitube's dedication as key to the success. "Our scientific team and research farm staff are second to none in bringing new biotechnologies to an applied veterinary and farm level," Dr. Dobrinsky stated. "Seeing that foal walking around the stall is a strong reminder of the scientific advancements that can be made when you combine a stellar team with a strong support environment like the one here at Minitube." Dr. Dobrinsky utilized one of Minitube's recently unveiled commercial products in the study: the EQUIPRO Vit-Kit, a complete equine direct transfer vitrification kit commercially available for equine veterinarians.
(Presented here courtesy of Minitube) 02/11/10

Routine CEMO Testing Now Recommended by USDA

USDA is now recommending voluntary routine testing of stallions prior to the onset of breeding in the current season in an effort to identify and ultimately eliminate any unidentified carriers of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism from the domestic population. We at have been recommending for some time that breeders voluntarily follow the British Horse Racing Betting Levy Board's Codes of Practice on CEM (see news item 03/12/2009) in order to protect both themselves from a legal perspective and breeders as a whole from an ethical perspective. It is worthy of consideration that the concept of "it couldn't happen to me" is what has resulted in the outbreak in the first place, as very few in the horse breeding world thought that there was a possibility that the CEMO was present in North America and hence there has not been routine pre-breeding testing for it as is seen in other countries. It is fortunate that the pathogen was identified on a pre-export isolation check and also that the majority of the mares bred by the affected stallions were bred by artificial insemination which resulted in a considerably lower incidence of transmission (currently 5 of 716 mares, or 0.7%) than that which was seen in the outbreak in the Thoroughbred industry in the late 1970's (which demonstrated as high as 30% transmission) where live cover was mandatory. Once again, we - and now USDA - encourage both breeders and their veterinarians to do all that they can to eradicate this disease from the USA. Stallion owners need to swab and culture their stallions; mare owners need to ask for the results of the swabs (and contemplate the possible consequences if swabbing has not been performed); and veterinarians need to be aware of the disease and its implications and educate their clients on the topic.

An Interesting Wrinkle to the CEM Jigsaw Puzzle?

The current outbreak of CEM in the USA took a potentially interesting turn today with the OIE's announcement of the finding of a horse positive for presence of the CEM organism in the United Arab Emirates. The interesting wrinkle is that the 12-year-old Thoroughbred non-breeding stallion was born in the United States, went to the United Kingdom as a yearling in training, then was exported to the United Arab Emirates racing stable in 2001, before being purchased for dressage by a private owner. It has never bred. The finding was as a result of a routine pre-export screening in the UAE.

In an associated news item, USDA have increased their export permit cost for semen export to Canada by $2 to $74. This is a further increase after the last raising of prices that took place in April 2009.

Another Stallion Added to the CEMO-positive List

After a period of quiescence with no news forthcoming, USDA have announced the addition of a twenty-second CEMO-positive stallion to the growing list. This stallion is located in Wisconsin - the ninth to test positive in that State. While over 90% of exposed mares have completed their testing and where appropriate treatment, and are now negative for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the numbers related to stallions are not so encouraging. 715 mares have been identified as "at risk", with only 65 of those mares still awaiting completion of treatment and/or testing. Of a lower number - 273 - of "at risk" stallions, there are still about the same number as the mares (68 stallions) still awaiting completion of treatment and/or testing. It is important to recognise that the testing protocols are more complicated and extensive for stallions than for mares, and it is equally important that one be aware that the risk factor for spread by unconfirmed but positive stallions remains significantly greater than mares. Five of the twenty-two stallions so far found to be carriers of the CEMO did not test positive for Taylorella equigenitalis presence on their first set of swabs. This does therefore present a concern relative to the 68 stallions still awaiting completion of testing and treatment, as 35 of those stallions have as yet only had a single set of swabs confirmed as negative. There is a distinct possibility that several more stallions could yet test positive, raising the total number of "at risk" horses - both mares and other stallions - exponentially.

While it is clear that the risk of exposure to a CEMO-positive horse is still very much present in the general equine population, it is to be hoped that the risk is gradually reducing. This does not mean that breeders need to let down their guard, and our previous recommendations with regard to voluntary pre-breeding testing will still be beneficial for the 2010 and subsequent breeding seasons. There has still not been an originating source for the current outbreak identified, and until there has been, and all tracebacks are returning "negative", the risk of CEM is still present in the general horse population of the USA.

Loss of Noted Equine Scientist

It is with regret that reports the death of Dr. Gordon Woods, one of the team of scientists that - along with Dr.'s Vanderwall and White achieved the production of the first cloned equid - a mule - in 2003. Dr. Woods had moved to a new position in 2007 as a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, and was continuing his research into the differences between the equine and human cell, with a view to the impact those differences had on various age-onset diseases. Friend and co-worker in the mule cloning project, Dr. Dirk Vanderwall observed that Woods was a "brilliant scientist" and that this was a devastating loss.

Dr. Woods passed away unexpectedly on Thursday at the age of 57. We extend our deepest sympathies to Dr. Woods' wife, children and friends.

CEMO Positive Numbers Increase

Two more male horses - one stallion, and one that is now a gelding - have been announced as having tested positive for the CEMO Taylorella equigenitalis bringing the number of male horses to 21. These two newly identified positive horses are located in Iowa and Wisconsin. Positive male horses have been found in seven States: one in Georgia, three in Illinois, three in Indiana, one in Iowa, four in Kentucky, one in Texas, and eight in Wisconsin. So far only five positive mares have been seen, and these are located in California (2), Illinois (2), and Wisconsin (1). The origin of the outbreak has yet to be identified, and USDA Aphis observes that "the epidemiologic investigation continues to pursue all available information relative to determining the origin of this outbreak, but no conclusions can yet be drawn".
06/02/2009 LLC Introduces its Stallion Station Facility

With the moving of the center of operations for LLC to Wynnewood Oklahoma, "outside" stallions may now be resident at the facility for the breeding season or permanently, in addition to our mobile and "drive by" collection services. Stallions standing at the facility are managed closely for optimal fertility, with semen being shipped on a daily basis (individual stallion dependent). On-farm A.I. breeding of mares is also available by resident or other stallions (using transported or frozen semen). For the 2009 season, we are pleased to be standing Blazin Jetolena (AQHA), Edelweiss de Bonce (Selle Français), L.A. Express (Hanoverian), Mannhattan (Oldenburg), and Touch of the Blues (Registered Irish Draught). For more details of these stallions and the facility, please visit our Stallion Station page. If you are interested in having your stallion stand at LLC, please contact us.

19th Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO; Traceback and Testing Continues

A nineteenth stallion - the seventh in Wisconsin - has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism Taylorella equigenitalis. This stallion - an American Hackney - tested positive through test breeding mares, having previously tested negative on swab cultures. This is the second stallion to test positive on breeding after testing negative on cultures, reinforcing the need for both culturing of swabs and test breeding of stallions, and treatment of mares even if they have tested negative on swab cultures.

In addition to the 19 positive stallions, there are 5 positive mares, and locations have been confirmed for 904 additional horses exposed to T. equigenitalis. The total of 928 exposed horses in the USA, located in 48 States, includes 270 stallions and 658 mares. All States other than Rhode Island and Hawaii have either positive or contact animals present. There are currently two additional exposed stallions, and sixteen exposed mares still being sought.

CEM - The Canadian Situation; Canada Makes Optional Importation Protocol Adjustment

Following the identification of stallions carrying Taylorella equigenitalis - the bacteria that is the causative agent of Contagious Equine Metritis - the unrestricted movement of equine semen from the USA to Canada was halted. Restrictions were put in place with the intent to ensure that no infective semen, animals or embryos were imported to Canada. The restrictions put in place for the semen required certification by both a licensed US veterinarian and USDA-Aphis that the stallion was not on a premises either under investigation or quarantine for CEMO presence during the 60 days prior to the semen collection, and that the semen extender used contained an antibiotic that would destroy the pathogen.

At the same time as attempting to prevent the introduction of Taylorella equigenitalis to Canada, the authorities on both sides of the border were identifying and tracking animals - both stallions and mares - located in Canada that had been potentially exposed to the pathogen. The primary route of exposure was mares that were bred with transported semen from USA-based stallions carrying the pathogen. Once located, the mares required various tests that may include clitoral, cervical and endometrial swabs, and a complement fixation test (blood test). Some of these tests cannot be performed on mares already in foal, so they must remain under quarantine until after foaling. Some Canadian-based stallions may have been exposed to "at risk" (i.e. bred with potentially infective semen) mares, and they too had to undergo testing. The last report received from CFIA indicated the total number of direct contacts as being 136 animals, involving multiple quarantine sites in six Provinces (AB 4, BC 2, NB 1, ON 9, PQ 2, and SK 1). Testing of animals included on that list of exposures was not expected to be completed until August of this year, although all animals that had returned results so far had been found "negative". This last week however has brought a new threat, with the discovery that a stallion had been imported to Canada last summer from the USA, where he had been collected at one of the facilities later identified as having been a link in positive stallion infection in that country (this was not the original index farm in Kentucky, but a different location). That stallion, which had already bred mares in Canada "live cover" was scheduled to start undergoing testing on Tuesday April 21st. On-farm mares that had been exposed by breeding to the stallion had not shown obvious indication of infection (e.g. early return to estrus, copious vaginal discharge etc.) so it is hoped that the stallion will be found "negative" for the causative organism Taylorella equigenitalis.

With the requirement that all semen - including cooled - imported from the USA to Canada be accompanied by both an import permit and a Zoosanitary Certificate endorsed by USDA, there arose a problem for many breeders in that time constraints prevented the obtaining of the USDA endorsement before the courier shipment deadline. Hence, many US stallions owners ceased to ship cooled semen to Canada. CFIA has - with immediate implementation - made an optional adjustment in that if desired the semen may now be shipped with a copy of the Zoosanitary Certificate unendorsed by USDA, provided that the certificate is endorsed by USDA prior to the semen arriving at the border and being presented for clearance. Upon receipt, USDA will endorse the certificate, and fax a copy of it to one of the applicable CFIA Import Service Centres ("ISC"). When the semen arrives at the import point, CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) personnel will refer the importation clearance to the applicable ISC, who will then review their faxed permit file and issue an order for the release of the semen as long as they have had a copy of the applicable Zoosanitary Certificate faxed to them by USDA. There is a Cdn$35 charge for CFIA clearing semen in this manner. It is unknown what USDA will charge. Contact information, and which ISC should be used is presented on the CFIA web site at

3 More Positive Stallions; Frozen Semen Implication; USDA to Raise Permit Charges

Three more stallions have tested positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis. Two are located in Illinois at the same facility as the stallion previously identified as positive in that State. All three stallions at that facility had also been collected at the same facility as the previously identified fourth positive Wisconsin stallion during the breeding seasons 2004-2007. The third newly identified positive stallion is located in Wisconsin - the sixth to test positive in that State - and is a Thoroughbred that had semen collected several times between 2004 and 2008 at the same facility as the fifth positive stallion in Wisconsin.

USDA have confirmed that a mare bred in Illinois (located at the same farm as the positive stallions in that State) was bred with frozen semen from one of the positive stallions. It does therefore appear that cooling or freezing does not destroy T. equigenitalis although further research is definitely warranted in this regard in view of the possibility - remote though it be - of cross-contamination from one of the positive stallions located on that farm. With only 5 mares positive out of hundreds that have been bred to positive stallions - thankfully most of those hundreds of breedings were performed by AI - it does seem that the incidence of transmission through the use of on-farm AI or transported semen is significantly reduced. It is fortunate that until now the Thoroughbred industry has not been involved. With the first positive Thoroughbred, and the awareness that the bacteria is very effectively transmitted through live cover (but not effectively, as demonstrated, by AI) it would seem that it may be time for the Thoroughbred industry to seriously reconsider the archaic requirement of "Live Cover Only" for the production of registrable Thoroughbred foals. The last major US outbreak of the the late 1970's cost the Thoroughbred industry an estimated US$1 million per day. It is ironic that this current outbreak was identified as a result of routine testing of a stallion that was having frozen semen exported. Had the index stallion been a Thoroughbred, as there is no allowance for frozen semen use in that breed and therefore semen freezing would have been unlikely, the issue would not have been identified in that manner!

The current charge of $51 for USDA endorsement of the "Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" - the form issued in the USA that is required to accompany semen being exported to Canada - is to be increased (along with a variety of other USDA charges) to $72 on April 29th 2009. This is the first increase in USDA charges for several years.

USDA Announces 2 More Positive Stallions and 1 More Mare

USDA yesterday announced the addition of more "positive" animals to the list, bringing the totals to fifteen stallions and five mares. The newly identified stallions are located in Illinois and Wisconsin. The Wisconsin stallion had been collected at the same facility as other positive stallions from that State, while the Illinois stallion - a Fjord horse born in Denmark and imported from the Netherlands in 2000 - was periodically co-located at the same facility as the fourth positive Wisconsin stallion during the 2004 and 2005 breeding seasons. The newly identified positive mare in Illinois was bred by AI in 2008 with semen collected in 2007 from an exposed stallion; that stallion is currently being tested to confirm his status for Taylorella equigenitalis.

In addition to the 15 positive stallions and 5 positive mares, locations have been confirmed for 706 additional horses exposed to T. equigenitalis. The total of 726 horses, located in 46 States, includes 120 stallions and 606 mares. Of the 120 stallions, 15 have tested positive for T. equigenitalis presence, 24 negative, and 81 have pending results. Of the 606 mares, 5 have tested positive, 305 negative, and 296 are pending. One mare is still being traced in Maine.

4th Mare Tests Positive for CEMO; Original Index Farm Clears Quarantine

A fourth mare - the second to be located in California, and the third to be bred with transported semen - has tested positive for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism. The mare is located in California and was bred to the positive Friesian stallion "Nanning 374". To date there have been 13 stallions identified as positive, and 4 mares. In addition to the identified positive animals, locations have also been confirmed for 698 additional horses exposed to Taylorella equigenitalis. The 715 horses are located in 46 States. There are 113 exposed or positive stallions in 19 States and 602 exposed or positive mares in 44 States. Three exposed mares and one exposed stallion are still actively being traced.

All stallions on the original Kentucky index farm, DeGraff Stables, have now completed treatment and been confirmed as clear of the organism, and quarantines have been lifted. It is fortunate that this original index facility maintained excellent records which have allowed a comprehensive tracking of the pathogen's path, but even though it has been tracked back to two stallions resident in Wisconsin in 2005, USDA observes that a conclusive point of origin has not yet been identified.

Georgia Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO Presence

A stallion resident in Georgia has tested positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis upon test breeding. His penile swab cultures had previously tested negative for presence of the organism - the first stallion in the current outbreak to test negative on cultures, but positive upon test breeding. This stallion was co-located during the 2008 breeding season in Wisconsin with three of the positive stallions previously identified, and full traceback for contacts with this stallion have not yet been completed. The fact that the previous swabs from this stallion tested negative on culture, but his test breeding of mares returned a positive result, suggests that the voluntarily implemented protocols recommended by the British Horse Racing Betting Levy Board in their Codes of Practice on CEM may well be worthy of introduction and implementation by breeders in North America. The Code of Practice for CEM recommends that "high risk" stallions be both swabbed (clean) and then have the first four mares that they bred in the current season have a clitoral swab taken two days after breeding. "High risk" is defined as stallions that have not been previously used for breeding purposes; or have previously tested positive for CEMO presence and have not yet been tested negative following treatment; or have in the previous 12 months been present at any premises at which the CEMO has been isolated; or which have mated a mare that has not been swabbed "clean" for CEMO presence. As most mares in North America will fall into this last category, it will mean that most stallions would be considered "high risk" and require both pre-breeding swabbing and mare testing. In light of the obvious potential for transfer via breeding equipment (seen in the current outbreak), it may also be that the HBLB should recommend that a "high risk" stallion also be one that has not been tested, and that has been collected at a facility that has collected other untested stallions. An un-named USDA source has recently observed that although USDA can run tracebacks and oversee official testing and treatment, it behoves the industry itself to become pro-active, and attempt to gain control by earlier identification of positive animals, and not by relying solely on traceback.

The traceback process is continuing, but has still not provided a definitive source for the outbreak. It now appears clear that the imported Friesian stallion "Nanning 374" who had been thought by some to have been a possible point of origin was not. Nanning 374 was imported in 2005, but was not co-located until 2007 with other stallions that have tested positive; nor have there been any positive mares identified in the intervening 2 years bred to Nanning 374. It does however seem likely that - as four of the stallions that were subsequently identified as positive were co-located during the 2006 (and in the case of two, the 2005) season - the source will traceback through one of those other stallions. None of those stallions were co-located with Nanning 374 until 2007, when three were. The fourth in the 2006 co-located group that tested positive was not co-located with Nanning 374 in 2007, but was at a different Wisconsin facility that season.

Fourth Stallion in Wisconsin Tests Positive for CEMO Presence

A 12th stallion - the fourth in Wisconsin - has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Metritis Organism, Taylorella equigenitalis. This stallion was co-located during the 2005 and 2006 breeding seasons in Wisconsin with two of the other known positive stallions (one of the positive stallions currently in Wisconsin and one of the positive stallions currently in Indiana). Culture results are pending for 4 more stallions in Wisconsin, and 1 each in Mississippi, Washington and Wyoming.

There are currently 12 known-positive stallions and 3 known-positive mares. A total of 623 horses are confirmed as having been exposed, with 17 States having positive or exposed stallions, and 44 States having positive or exposed mares. One additional exposed mare thought to be in California is still being traced. Eleven exposed stallions have now completed their entire testing and treatment protocol and been determined to be negative for Taylorella equigenitalis, while another 52 exposed stallions have had at least one set of negative cultures prior to test breeding. A total of 191 exposed mares have completed their testing and treatment protocol and are negative for CEMO presence, while at least another 251 exposed mares are pregnant and will not complete their protocols until after foaling, and are currently in quarantine.

Canada Adjusts Import Restrictions for Equine Semen Coming from USA, but Originating in Another Country

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) today reported changes to import restrictions for semen being imported from the USA to Canada that originated in another country, but that was legally imported to the USA. With the implementation of the increased restrictions on semen import to Canada of January 29th 2009 as a result of the CEM outbreak in the USA, importation to Canada from the USA of third-country semen was prevented. This restriction has now been lifted, although there is still a requirement that - as with semen of US origin - an import permit and Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen accompany the shipment, along with a Canada Customs or Commercial Invoice. The Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen must certify that the semen was legally imported into the U.S. for unrestricted use, and the country where the semen was collected. This lifting of restrictions applies to both fresh (cooled) and frozen semen, although it has the most implications for frozen semen.

Canadian horses potentially exposed to the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) have now been identified and isolated in six Canadian Provinces - Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia - and testing is underway, but as yet no mares have returned a "positive" result.

Kentucky Introduces Import Restrictions for Stallions

Kentucky has introduced restrictions on all stallions entering the State for breeding or semen collection purposes that originated in Wisconsin. These stallions must be tested negative for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis - the causative agent of contagious equine metritis - within the 28 days preceding entry. The test results must be certified by the attending veterinarian, who must also confirm that the stallion had neither bred live cover, nor had semen collected after the swab sample for culture was taken. Additionally, an import permit is required, which can be obtained by the attending veterinarian from the Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian by calling OSV at (502) 564-3956, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. EST to 4:30 p.m. EST.

3rd Mare Tests Positive for CEMO - 2nd to be Bred by AI

A second mare bred by AI has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism - this being the third mare overall to test positive. This mare is located in California, and was bred to a different stallion than the other mare bred by AI that tested positive. USDA-Aphis reports that in addition to the 11 positive stallions and 3 mares, locations have been confirmed for 600 additional exposed horses, while another nine exposed horses - eight mares and one stallion - are still actively being traced.

Regulatory Steps for Shipping Semen from the USA to Canada

Importation of semen from the USA to Canada is not insurmountable with the new regulations - indeed, they are essentially the same as the "old" regulations that were in place before the border opened to semen movement about 10 years ago - but they may prove impossible for some who want to ship cooled semen because of time-lines. The steps are as follows:
  • The mare owner applies to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for an import permit. We have the current application available for downloading on our web site here (note that it is quite a large file at 552 Kb, so you will want a reasonably fast connection), and addenda with explanations and costs for semen and embryo importation at those locations. It would be best to confirm with CFIA that these forms are still current if someone is reading this in the more distant future!
  • Upon receipt of the import permit, it must be sent to the stallion owner/manager to accompany the semen at time of shipment. If it is a multiple-entry permit (which we recommend with fresh semen in case of the need for a rebreed, even though it is more expensive), then a copy can accompany the semen shipment, but the original must be available for review by CFIA/CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency - formerly "Canada Customs") if requested;
  • The semen is collected in the presence of a veterinarian certified by USDA-Aphis for the purpose (this is typically your normal vet), and they must issue a "Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" that certifies as outlined at the foot of this list;
  • That "Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" is taken to a USDA-Aphis office for endorsement by the Federal Vet;
  • A Customs Invoice must be completed and accompany the shipment - they are currently available on-line here;
  • Semen presented for importation into Canada must be in individual receptacles or straws, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the semen collection premises;
  • The semen is shipped.
As you can see, it's not difficult, but there are some specific steps that must be completed. If they are not, then the semen will be rejected at the time of inspection by CBSA. The requirement for endorsement by USDA-Aphis in particular is the item that may produce impossible time constraints for some. Obviously frozen semen will permit longer time-delays.

Note that there are NO differences as to the region where the horse is located. Some Internet bulletin board posts that we have seen reference the stallion being in a "CEM free zone" or a "State not currently affected" and that it might make a difference, but it makes no difference to the import requirements. It is semen from ALL of the USA that must be certified in the manner described.

"Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" Declaration wording:
  1. The donor stallion(s) have not been on a premises where T.equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding collection of the semen for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM.
  2. The semen was processed using an extender that contains antibiotics effective against T.equigenitalis.
Current regulations can be obtained through the Canadian Automated Import Reference System.

Second Mare Found Positive for CEM

A second mare has tested positive for Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent of Contagious Equine Metritis ("CEM"). This mare is located in Illinois, and was bred using artificial insemination techniques with semen from a positive stallion. The other mare that had tested positive was located in Wisconsin, and had been bred live-cover to a positive stallion in that State. This unfortunately demonstrates that although the possibility of transfer of the pathogen by AI is reduced (575 horses have been identified as "exposed" to date, but there are only 11 positive stallions, and 2 positive mares, although there are still some results pending), it is not completely eliminated.

USDA is currently reporting 575 exposed horses located in 45 States. This breaks down to 70 positive or exposed stallions in 14 States and 505 positive or exposed mares in 43 States. Another 33 exposed horses, 19 mares and 14 stallions, are still actively being traced. USDA also reports that they consider that "None of the positive horses have yet been identified as the source of the outbreak; the epidemiologic investigation continues to pursue all available information relative to determining the origin of this outbreak, but no conclusions can yet be drawn".

Number of CEMO-positive Animals Increases; Canada Finalizes Semen Import Regulations

The number of CEMO-positive animals has increased in the past few days with test results indicating that there was an additional stallion in Wisconsin that showed positive for the presence of T. equigenitalis. A mare has also tested positive for presence, the mare having been bred live-cover to one of the previously identified infected stallions. This brings the total number of positive animals to 11 stallions, and one mare. The OIE shows 547 susceptible animals, while the USDA reports 524 horses in 45 States, with 25 exposed mares still being actively sought.

After a brief delay, CFIA has reported implementation of the import restrictions for semen originating from the USA. An import permit will be required, this permit being obtained from CFIA prior to the importation, and must accompany the shipment. The permit can be single-entry or multiple-entry, with the latter valid for 1 year. In the case of a single-entry import permit, the cost is Cdn$35, and the original must accompany the shipment. In the case of the multiple-entry permit, the cost is Cdn$60, and a copy may be used to accompany the shipment, but the original must be available for CBSA inspection if requested. Multiple-entry import permits are for shipments to a single location, although they can include semen from multiple donors. Our recommendation with cooled semen would be for the importer to purchase the marginally more-expensive multiple-import permit in case of failure of establishment of pregnancy on the first cycle.

In addition to the import permit, a USDA-issued "Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" is required. This must be completed by an attending veterinarian, certifying the items mentioned previously - that "the donor stallion(s) have not been on a premises where T. equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding collection of the semen for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM" and that "the semen was processed using an extender that contains antibiotics effective against T. equigenitalis". As it appears that CFIA does not have a list of "antibiotics effective against T. equigenitalis", it must be presumed that the choice is open to the interpretation of the attending veterinarian, but that an antibiotic effective against gram-negative bacteria that is also sperm-compatible would be the choice. Some of these may include Amikacin sulfate, Gentamycin sulfate, "Timentin" and possibly Ticarcillin. Once completed by the attending veterinarian, the certificate must be endorsed by a USDA veterinarian. Semen must also be presented for importation "in individual receptacles or straws, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the semen collection premises", although the containers do not have to be sealed by a USDA seal. There will have to be a separate USDA-issued "Zoosanitary Export Certificate for Semen" for each shipment of semen being sent to Canada. It is important to note that the CFIA instructions to CBSA observe: "***PLEASE NOTE THAT NONE OF THE SEMEN CONTAINER MUST BE OPENED. NO PHYSICAL INSPECTION TO BE DONE, ONLY DOCUMENTATION REVIEW.***" ([sic] on the grammar; also CFIA-applied asterisks and capitals).

A Canada Customs Invoice or commercial invoice must also accompany the shipment that "must clearly indicate the product being imported, country of origin and end use".

Another point that is not completely clear is that it appears that as importation inspection has been delegated to CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency - formerly "Canada Customs") rather than CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency), there is no restriction on ports of entry other than that there be a CBSA agent available. There had been some previous discussion on some Internet bulletin boards that entry would be limited to CFIA ports of entry only or even more restricted, but as the only requirement is the CBSA presence, this would appear to be incorrect. It does note however that in some instances of non-matching paperwork etc. that the shipment should be referred to the CFIA vet, so there may be some as yet unspecified CBSA requirements for importation through a port of entry where a CFIA vet is available in some form.

More information and specific wording requirements are available through the CFIA AIRS system on line at

New Hampshire Introduces Horse "Taxation" Bill Likely to Set Back NAIS Scheme

USDA has been working on encouraging horse owners to participate in the National Animal Identification System scheme for some time, and had everyone been registered, there is little doubt that tracking all the susceptible animals would have been made far easier, and more successful in the current CEM outbreak. As of today, there are still 65 contact mares unaccounted for that are being sought. Resistance to enrolling in the NAIS among horse owners has been quite high, with one of the common arguments against doing so being that "the government will have access to information on the number of horses I have and be able to use it for taxation purposes". This of course was not the original intent of the NAIS, and was argued against being likely by those that were supportive of the concept of being able to improve biosecurity. It appears however, that NAIS enrollment may produce exactly that result.

Rep. Carla Skinder, D-Sullivan County of the State of New Hampshire has introduced a bill that will require all horse owners in the State to obtain a license for each horse they own at a cost of $25 per horse. Additionally, each horse so licensed would have to be vaccinated against rabies. As rabies vaccinations in the State are administered by a veterinarian, it is estimated that the licensing of each animal is likely to end up costing the owner around $100.

There is little doubt that the introduction of this bill - whether is passes or not - will reinforce the arguments made against enrolling in the NAIS, and set back the whole scheme considerably. It is also quite probable that it will drive horse ownership "underground" within the State, which - in the event of an outbreak of something such as the current CEM situation, or the EVA outbreak of 2006 - will have exactly the opposite effect of the NAIS, and make tracking of any affected animals more difficult, and increase the risk factor for other animals in the State.

Money collected for the "licensing" is apparently intended to be redistributed at the rate of $10 to the municipality for animal control costs, $5 to the state veterinarian's fund, and $10 to the State's general fund. One has to wonder about how many stray horses are rounded up by municipality animal control (and it should be noted that Ms. Skinder serves on the Commission for the Humane Treatment of Animals, so there may be an interest involvement there); but of an even greater "eyebrow raising" nature is the $10 that is allocated to the State's "general fund". "No taxation without representation" comes to mind! New Hampshire is next to Boston - could there be a "Boston Hay Bale Party" in the offing?

CFIA Delays Anticipated Date of Semen and Embryo Import Restriction

Although CFIA had been anticipating implementation of restrictions on the import of equine semen and embryos from the USA to Canada on approximately January 26th 2009, it now appears that a brief delay is required to enable complete organization of that implementation between CFIA and USDA-Aphis, in particular with reference to cooled semen. The new expected implementation date is unknown. The CFIA AIRS (Automated Import Reference System) continues to indicate that "Conditions for import horses for breeding and equine semen are currently under review. Importation is not advised at this time until a disease investigation in the United States is completed", although we are aware of shipments of semen that have been delivered without issue. We do strongly recommend caution in shipping equine semen or embryos to Canada, with every precaution being taken to prevent the possibility of accidental importation of semen from a CEMO-positive or contact animal.
Second Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced today that a second stallion - a four year-old Paint - has tested positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis the causative agent for CEM. This horse had been present at a Wisconsin AI center at the same time as the Friesian stallion previously identified as positive. Seventeen more stallions also exposed in the same manner have been quarantined and are undergoing testing, as are 29 exposed mares.

Prior to this latest positive test, USDA-Aphis reported that there were 51 positive or exposed stallions that were located in 12 States, and 332 exposed mares in 39 States. They also noted that 97 exposed mares and 1 stallion were not yet located, but were still actively being traced. OIE however is currently reporting 547 susceptible animals.

Identity of CEMO-Positive Friesian Stallion Released

The Friesian Horse Association of America has published a letter that identifies the Friesian stallion located in Wisconsin which tested positive for CEMO presence as "Nanning 374". As with previous CEMO-positive stallions, we strongly encourage any person aware of a mare that may have been bred to the horse, or of any other possible contact animals, to come forward and contact USDA-Aphis or your State Department of Agriculture veterinarian.

Number of CEMO Contact Animals Continues to Rise

The number of "at-risk" animals that have come into contact with a CEMO-positive animal has climbed significantly as the traceback continues. The addition of contact animals from the latest CEMO-positive stallion, a Friesian in Wisconsin, brings the total to 547 animals, this latest stallion adding an additional 167 animals to the susceptible list.

According to the OIE's World Animal Health Information Database, the 13 year-old Friesian stallion located in Outagamie County, WI, was imported to the USA in late 2004 and was co-located in Wisconsin during the 2007 breeding season with one of the affected Kentucky stallions, but had not himself been located in Kentucky.

Canada Introduces Restrictions on Importation of all Equines, Equine Semen, and Equine embryos from the USA

CFIA has announced the introduction of import restrictions on horses and equine semen originating from the USA as a result of the current US outbreak of Contagious Equine Metritis. Horses and other equidae (asses, mules and zebras) will not require an import permit, but will require additional declarations on the health papers certifying that they have not been on a premises where Taylorella equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM; and that any female(s) in the shipment have not been bred naturally to, or inseminated with, semen from a stallion positive for CEM, or a stallion resident upon a positive premises or under quarantine or investigation for CEM. Additionally, the animals must not show any signs of CEM on the day of inspection.

Semen has different restrictions based upon the date of collection. Semen collected prior to December 15th 2008 does not require an import permit, but will require a U.S. Health Certificate that declares the date of collection, the identity of the donor stallion and the identity of the collection premises. Semen collected after December 15th 2008 will require an import permit (obtained from CFIA), and a U.S. Health Certificate with the declaration that the donor stallion(s) have not been on a premises where Taylorella equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding collection of the semen for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM; and that the semen was processed using an extender that contains antibiotics effective against Taylorella equigenitalis. Semen presented for importation into Canada must be in individual receptacles or straws, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the semen collection premises.

Embryos will require an import permit (obtained from CFIA), and a U.S. Health Certificate with the declaration that the donor mare(s) have not been on a premises where Taylorella equigenitalis has been isolated during the 60 days immediately preceding the collection of the embryo(s) for export to Canada or a premises currently under quarantine or investigation for CEM and have not been bred naturally or inseminated with semen from a stallion positive for CEM, or a stallion resident upon a positive premises or under quarantine or investigation for CEM; and that the flushing medium that was used to collect the embryo(s) contains antibiotics effective against Taylorella equigenitalis. Embryos presented for importation into Canada must be in sterile straws or pipettes, each marked with the collection date, identity of the donor and the embryo collection premises.

Import Permit applications can be obtained from the CFIA web site at A single import permit costs Cdn$35, multiple use Cdn$60. Border inspection for semen will cost Cdn$35; horses (single) Cdn$25. Inland inspection of semen will cost Cdn$32 for 1-49 units, Cdn$51 for 50-499 units, incrementally increasing for more units. Canadian horses that enter the US and will be returning will now be given an extra page by the endorsing CFIA Vet. to go with the Canadian Export Health certificate, that must be presented to an accredited vet in the USA for completion, and must be be endorsed by a USDA vet before returning to Canada. Canada Border Services Agency will be looking for this document before allowing re-entry. Additionally, semen and embryos will be subject to inspection upon importation, and consequently there will be restrictions in some cases as to point of entry to Canada. The restrictions placed on entry of horses is implemented immediately, while the restrictions on semen and embryos will be implemented approximately January 26th 2009.

As it is not unlikely that there will be some initial confusion with these new requirements, we recommend that Canadian importers and/or US exporters in the near future contact CFIA and/or USDA-Aphis for confirmation of requirements prior to attempting border crossing.

Texas Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO Presence

An additional Quarter Horse stallion that was standing at the Kentucky index farm for the 2008 breeding season has tested positive for CEMO presence. This brings the total of stallions that have tested positive for Taylorella equigenitalis presence to nine: four in Kentucky, three in Indiana and one each in Wisconsin and Texas.

Wisconsin Stallion Tests Positive for CEMO Presence; 4 More Stallions Negative, 3 Pending

A Friesian stallion resident in Wisconsin has tested positive for the CEMO. This is the first publicly known link in a "traceback" to the source of the disease outbreak, as the stallion - located in Outagamie County - was resident during the 2007 breeding season in Wisconsin with one of the stallions that subsequently moved to the Kentucky facility for the 2008 breeding season, where it was found to be positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism. The last incidence of the CEMO being seen in North America occurred in Dane County, Wisconsin in 2006, in three Lipizzaner stallions which had been imported from Germany in 2004, but which would have cleared quarantine upon importation.

At the index farm in Kentucky, four more stallions have been removed from the list of those pending test results, and have been added to the list of "negative by culture". DeGraff's reported today that Tamarax, Potential Career, Red Hot Impulse and Mr Dun Promised have returned negative culture results, bringing their list of "negative by culture" stallions to thirteen. Nationwide, USDA-Aphis reports that in addition to the eight positive stallions, locations of a total of 326 exposed horses have been confirmed. 43 stallions are located in 11 different States, and 291 mares are located in 37 States. There are still 43 exposed mares that have not been located. All positive and exposed animals are either under quarantine or are being held, and testing continues.

Wisconsin, Colorado and Montana Added to List of States Quarantining and Testing for Presence of CEMO

One mare in Colorado and one in Montana have been quarantined and are undergoing testing for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis following exposure by being bred to one of the seven stallions that have so far tested positive for CEMO presence. In Wisconsin 17 horses on 11 different farms are quarantined and are being tested, with the animals being described in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection press release as "mostly... mares that were bred either naturally or by artificial insemination to one of seven stallions that have tested positive" [for CEMO presence].

It is interesting to note that the mare that is quarantined in Montana was not initially identified by any official Montana authority such as the Department of Livestock or the Veterinary Board - this despite the requirement that semen shipped into Montana be accompanied by a pre-issued semen shipping permit. This permit requirement was implemented following the outbreak of EVA in 2006, and we cautioned at that time that some of the associated regulations were likely to drive breeding with transported semen "underground" in that State. It appears that this is exactly what happened in this situation, and it is fortunate that the CEMO index farm kept excellent records and were responsible in supplying information to authorities and following up in contacting affected mare owners. Had that not been the case, there could well have been affected animals that remained unidentified in the State.

Results from the seven remaining initial contact stallions from the index farm have not yet been made public, and if anyone has a mare that has been bred to one of the stallions, we strongly recommend that they contact the stallion owner or DeGraff Stables directly if they have not done so. Initial results from contact (bred) mares are promising in that none have as yet shown a positive result for CEMO presence. It is unknown how many mare results have been obtained, nor exactly how many more are pending.

Two More States Announce Mare Testing and Quarantine

State Veterinarians from Texas and Oklahoma have announced that they have quarantined and are testing mares that were bred with semen from, or were in contact with, stallions that tested positive for the Contagious Equine Metritis organism. This brings the total of States or Provinces (Canada) that have announced that they are testing contact horses to eight, although it has also been reported that 78 potentially exposed horses in 27 States (9 stallions and 69 mares) are under hold or quarantine pending test results. The OIE reports 320 contact animals, and with almost 30 States or Provinces involved in shipments of semen from the stallions or movement of contact animals, undoubtedly more quarantines and testings will be announced. It is important for breeders to be aware that treatment of mares for CEM and clearing of the pathogen from the the stallion's genitalia can be successfully achieved, so awareness of pathogenic presence with the testing is an important first step to control and eradication.

7 CEMO Positive; 9 Negative on Culture; 7 Pending

Two additional stallions have returned "negative" culture results for presence of the CEMO, and the index farm has listed results as following:

Positive   Negative   Pending
Gentlemen Send Roses
Hot Lopin Sensation
Indian Artifacts
Invited Back
Potential Investment
Repeated In Red
Zips Heaven Sent
Custom Invitation
HBF Iron Man
Hesa Cool Hotrod
Heza Tuff Mister
Only Intuition
Vested Assets
Vested Pine
  Hotroddin Zippo
Potential Asset
Mr. Dun Promised
Red Hot Impulse
Mr. Notibily Zippo
Potential Career

Again, we strongly encourage you to please contact DeGraff Stables (follow that link for contact information) in the event that you have bred a mare this past breeding season (2008) to one of the positive stallions and have not yet heard from a Federal or State vet about testing your mare. Additionally, if you have bred to one of the "pending" stallions in the 2008 breeding season, please continue to monitor this web site or DeGraff's web site, where we will update the results as they become available for release.

CEM Outbreak - Important Information for Mare Owners has been contacted by mare owners who have bred their mares to stallions that have been confirmed positive as carriers of Taylorella equigenitalis - the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) - in the current USA outbreak, but who have not yet been contacted by a State or Federal veterinarian with reference to having the mare tested. If you have bred a mare to one of the positive stallions and not been contacted by a Federal or State veterinarian, please contact DeGraff Stables (follow that link for contact information). Please be aware that the fact that your mare has not aborted and is still pregnant does not mean that she is not infected with the CEMO. In fact, few abortions are associated with CEM, and foals produced by CEMO-carrying mares may harbour the pathogen themselves, and be infective when they are mature animals and being bred. This is one way in which the organism maintains presence in a population.

Current CEMO-positive Stallion Number Confirmed as Seven

The number of stallions reported by the OIE - seven - as showing positive for presence of the CEMO is confirmed with the news that three Paint Horse stallions that were resident at the index farm in Kentucky and returned home to Indiana have tested positive. As these stallions were already identified as contact animals with the four positive stallions in Kentucky, it is thought that they pose a minimal risk for further spread.

Contact mares bred with semen from all positive stallions must undergo testing, and at least two States - Virginia and North Dakota - have imposed quarantine controls on facilities where tested mares reside, pending negative results.

CEMO-positive Stallion Number Increases

The number of stallions reported as positive for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis the causative agent for Contagious Equine Metritis in the Kentucky USA outbreak has risen to six the index farm reports. Seven stallions are shown as "believed negative", with ten more having results still pending. The OIE (Office international des épizooties) - the international reporting agency for infectious animal diseases - is however currently reporting seven positive stallions, with 320 more potentially affected (exposed) animals. It is unclear where this number discrepancy originates, but we will update the information as applicable once confirmed.
12/30/2008 Introduces Newsletter

We at, LLC recognize that many veterinarians, breeders and repro specialists may not always have the time to monitor this site to access news current events, new articles or other information. To assist everyone in keeping up to date, we have initiated a monthly e-mail newsletter. If you wish to receive a copy of our Newsletter, please sign up in the subscription box in the upper right hand corner of this page. We wish everyone a Happy New Year and a successful upcoming breeding and foaling season (or for those in the Southern hemisphere, we hope you just had one)!

CEM Testing Delayed by Season. Limited Federal Funding Available to Cover Some Costs

The index farm has announced that some of the fourteen remaining contact stallions that have not yet been evaluated for CEMO presence will not be cultured until January 6th, 2009, with the results therefore not being available until the second or third week of January (dependent upon findings). More information and results when available will be found on their web site at

It has also been announced that USDA will reimburse the UK LDDC in Lexington, KY for the cost of mailing samples and of conducting the culture tests, but that there is no confirmation of additional funding to cover costs, although it has been requested. In the event that additional Federal funding becomes available, it is likely that it will be retro-active, so good record-keeping by affected persons is essential in order to be able to make a valid claim, ensuring that receipts are clearly identifying that they are relevant to the CEM situation. It is also suggested that contacting your congressman, senator and/or State representative to further the cause of requesting Federal aid may be of value.
Ryegrass Implicated in Reproductive Endophyte Toxicity Issues

Although Fescue grass tends to get blamed for being the carrier of endophytes that produce reproductive related issues including prolonged pregnancy and delay of onset of estrus in the spring (it is technically the alkaloid secreted by the endophyte that produces those effects), there has long been a suspicion that other grasses may also be implicated. Rye grass was one of those additional grasses, and some new research indicates that there is indeed a connection.

In "Prevalence of ergot derivatives in natural ryegrass pastures: Detection and pathogenicity in the horse" (Lezica FP, Filip R, Gorzalczany S, Ferraro G, de Erausquin GA, Rivas C and Ladaga GJB: (2009) Theriogenology: 71:3 422-431) the authors summarize in the final line of the abstract: "Based on these findings, we inferred that endophyte-infected ryegrass is associated with ergot alkaloid intoxication in horse."

The full abstract can be viewed on line in the Theriogenology Journal.

Semen Shipped to Canada from CEMO-positive Stallion in Kentucky

CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency - the Canadian equivalent of USDA) has announced that semen was shipped from one of the Kentucky-based stallions that tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis to breed mares in Alberta (2 mares) and Ontario (1 mare) last spring. The mares have been quarantined and are undergoing testing to determine if there has been transmission of the bacteria. Although semen extenders commonly carry an antibiotic, that does not guarantee destruction of the bacteria, which could still be viable and infect the mare at the time of breeding.

While all parties involved in this outbreak are working assiduously to regain control and achieve complete elimination of presence of the bacteria within all contact animals, there is concern that the US may lose "CEM-free" status within the International community. Such a loss would prevent the free (non-restricted) passage of semen and horses into Canada, as well as less-restrictive testing requirements for export to other countries. Horses being exported to Canada would be likely to require quarantine with extensive testing and swabbing with results negative for the presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, and in the case of stallions test-breeding of two mares while in quarantine. Semen could only be exported from stallions that were standing at quarantine facilities and that had undergone the same type of testing. CFIA's current recommendation, made in the announcement on their web site is that "Until more information is available from the U.S.... the equine industry and importers in Canada exercise caution and refrain from importing breeding horses, embryos and semen from the U.S."

Fourth Stallion Tests Positive for CEM, and a New Article on

A fourth stallion has tested positive for presence of Taylorella equigenitalis, the causative agent for CEM; five stallions have negative results allowing a presumptive diagnosis of "clear" (repeat testing may be required to confirm definitively); and results are pending on an additional fourteen exposed stallions and an unknown number of mares to which the "positive" stallions have been bred. To assist veterinarians, breeders and other interested parties, we have added an article about CEM to our articles section.

CEM Index Farm Posts Updates on their Website

DeGraaf Stables' "Liberty Farm" in Kentucky, where the current CEM-positive stallions are located, have placed an update page on their web site. We at congratulate them on their pro-activeness to reduce the transmission of uneducated information that tends to be rampant within the horse industry in a situation like this!

Two More Kentucky Stallions Test Positive for CEM

Two more stallions have tested positive for presence of the causative agent for CEM, the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced today. The latest stallions to test positive are a 13 year-old Quarter Horse and a 4 year-old registered American Paint Horse. Five other stallions currently resident on the index farm have so far tested negative for the presence of the bacterium, but as it is slow-growing, repeated testing is required before absolute confirmation of "clear" status can be made. Mares bred to the stallions from this farm are being tracked and tested, but this is not an easy task as multiple jurisdictions and a significant number of animals are involved, one of the stallions alone having bred 50 mares this last breeding season. These latest confirmations have caused Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer to asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer to declare a state of agricultural emergency and commit federal funds to assist with the situation.

An excellent interview with Dr. Peter Timoney on the subject of CEM is available through "The Horse" website at

CEM Reported in Kentucky

A case of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) has been reported in a 16 year-old Quarter Horse stallion standing in Kentucky. CEM is a bacterial disease that can be sexually transmitted, and is a notifiable disease, meaning that reporting of a case to authorities is mandatory. Because of the potential for significant negative financial impact in the case of an outbreak, there are international restrictions on the transport of horses and semen that reference testing for CEM. It was during the testing protocol prior to freezing of semen for export that the current case was identified. The affected stallion originated in Texas, and moved to Kentucky in February 2008 where he stood at stud and had semen shipped. There were 21 other stallions on the same farm for the 2008 breeding season. All other recently exposed horses are currently under quarantine and are awaiting test results.

How Soon we Forget!

In a review of the 19 full-page stallion advertisements in the December issue of the "USDF Connection" magazine, only two carried any information about the equine viral arteritis (EVA) status of the stallion. In a random review of 19 full-page stallion ads in the December issue of the "AQHA Journal" absolutely none of the ads carried any mention of EVA status of the stallions.

It seems that stallion owners are either avoiding the issue, or burying their heads in the sand in the belief that if they can't see a problem, it doesn't exist! Sadly this is not true.

As we come close to the start of the 2009 (northern hemisphere) breeding season, it seems that the onus is being placed even more on the mare-owner to do their part in the prevention of another outbreak of EVA in the US. If the stallion owners are not going to do their part by educating the mare-owner as to the staus of the stallion they are offering at stud, then it behooves the mare owner to ensure that status - after all, it is the mare owner that will be the first to know if there is an outbreak as a result of breeding their mare to a positive "shedding" stallion when other already-pregnant mares on their farm start aborting or coming up "open".

Mare owners: One of the first questions to ask a stallion owner prior to booking to their stallion is "what is the EVA status of your stallion?". The ideal answer you are looking for is "EVA negative and vaccinated annually". "Tested EVA negative" or even "tested negative and vaccinated" is not adequate unless the animal has been vaccinate annually - simply testing the animal and getting a negative result will not prevent them becoming infected and a shedder the week after they are tested!

Stallion owners: Use the "EVA negative, vaccinated annually" terminology in your advertisements! It demonstrates that you are an ethical breeder doing your bit to prevent the transmission of this troublesome disease. Alternatively, in the event that your stallions are not tested and vaccinated, right now - more than 60 days before the start of the breeding season - is an excellent time to do it. Review the EVA articles for more details on the full testing an vaccination protocol.

Impact of an outbreak:

Why do we continually hammer on about this? Take a moment to consider the impact that resulted from an infected stallion in New Mexico in 2006:
Associated EVA cases were confirmed in 6 States - NM, UT, MT, KS, OK, AL.
Circumstantial evidence suggested associated EVA cases in 4 more States - CA, ID, CO, TX.

A total of 69 direct exposures were identified:
48 (69.5%) were mares inseminated with shipped semen.
20 (29%) involved mares and foals that had visited the index premises.
1 (1.5%) was a mare that was both inseminated and also visited the index premises.
(Direct exposure = horse potentially exposed to infection on index premises (NM) or through insemination with infective semen).

New Mexico and Utah were the most affected States:
A total of 50 facilities involving 2022 horses were placed under supervised or voluntary quarantine in those two States alone!

The true extent of the outbreak is difficult to gauge as Federal and State reporting requirements for EVA are inadequate.

Need we say more? If so, please review the articles about equine viral arteritis to be found in our articles section
12/07/2008 Participates in On-line Radio Program about Cloning

We were recently pleased to be invited to participate in an on-line radio discussion about the cloning of horses. The "Stable Scoop Radio Show" is a weekly production of the Horse Radio Network that offers news and views of a topical equine nature. Also participating in the interview was Blake Russell, VP of Business Development for the US-based cloning company ViaGen. The interview about cloning can be accessed on the "Stable Scoop" interview page, or by using the Audio Player control below ("click" on the arrow in the green to start).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Gem Twist Reborn!

Gem Twist CloneThe latest cloning news comes from the European cloning firm Cryozootech, who have today announced the birth of a clone of the three-time "American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year", legendary American Thoroughbred gelding showjumper "Gem Twist".

Gem Twist - owned and bred by Frank and Mary Chapot - was much loved by followers of the sport of showjumping for an entire generation, winning two Silver Medals at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games under Greg Best, as well as Team Silver at the Pan-American Games, and numerous other Grand Prix. In 1990 he was named the "World's Best Horse" at the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm.

The only real "downside" To Gem Twist was that he was a gelding - and therefore unable to pass on his excellent genetic material to please future generation of showjumping fans - but now, with this clone, he can!

"Scamper" Proven Fertile!

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Scamper wins with no bridle - click to open larger image in new window
Scamper wins with no bridle!
(photo credit: Kenneth Springer)
Charmayne James' multiple world-champion gelding "Scamper" cannot of course sire foals himself, but his clone - "Clayton", foaled in 2006 - has proven fertile, with two mares being bred, embryos flushed, and maintained pregnancies identified in the recipient mares. This exciting new development for North American breeders offers future potential for perpetuation of genetics from stallions that have been gelded - something that Professor W.R. "Twink" Allen has been promoting for over 10 years, with his recommendation being that all prospective quality geldings have semen frozen before they are gelded! The "after the fact" technique of cloning means that Scamper's genes have now been passed on, and it will be interesting to watch the resulting foals in barrel racing performance in the future.

In a similar piece of news, a clone of "Doc's Serendipity" was recently twice bred to "High Brow Cat", with embryos successfully flushed and transferred on both occasions. There will be a number of clones and foals from clones arriving in 2009, 2008 having been a temporary hiatus year for cloning company ViaGen, owing to the need to relocate operations to Canada following closure of the horse slaughterhouses in Texas, causing a lack of availability of the oocytes required for the process. "Next year will be big" was Dr. Gregg Veneklasen's comment of the upcoming foaling season. Dr. Veneklasen owns and operates Timber Creek Veterinary Hospital in Canyon, Texas USA, which is heavily involved in the production of equine clones.

In an associated piece of news, it is reported that AQHA are to discuss and review its current no-registration rule regarding clones at their 2009 convention. It has long been our view ('s) that registries as a whole - not just AQHA - should be prepared to register clones with the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456-a, 123456-b etc.), while at the same time microchipping all the animals involved (donor and clone[s]). Any work involving a recordable performance (competition, breeding etc.) would then require reading of the microchip to confirm identity. This will allow tracking of the clones and their genetic input, which is good from all perspectives of the argument - whether you agree with cloning or not - as currently, in the case of stallions, there is no way to identify if a foal sired by a clone could have been sired by the donor animal, or vice-versa, as the DNA of the offspring will match both donor and clone in the parentage verification process.
Pregnant Mare "Due Date" Statistics Demonstrate Wide Range of Gestational Duration

Each year receives contact from concerned mare owners worried that their pregnant mare is past her "due date". Each year we explain to those persons that the normal range of gestational duration is anywhere between 320 and 370 days, and as long as endophyte toxicity (e.g. fescue exposure) is not an issue and the mare looks fine, then in all probability all is fine (although of course if there are concerns a veterinarian should evaluate the mare). We also have an article that discusses these observations - ("Is my mare overdue?"). Despite this, concerns still abound, so this year we added a poll at the foot of the article for readers to complete indicating gestational duration of their mare that produced a live foal. The results (presented at left in continually updated format) clearly demonstrate that the range of 339-344 days - which includes most commonly held "due dates" - while the highest percentile range, is most decidedly not indicative of a "due date", with under 20% of foalings taking place during that time frame! We will keep the poll open on a continuous basis, and as more readers add their statistics to it (please visit the whole article and enter your mare's data!) we hope that those readers that are concerned will glean a little solace in the clearly demonstrated lack of a "due date" in the equine!
Respected Veterinarian Dies in Tragic Accident

It is sad to report that Theriogenologist Dr. John Steiner has died following an accident he experienced May 20th 2008 while working on a Morgan stallion. The horse apparently struck Dr. Steiner in the head causing massive trauma, and although hospitalized, a spokesman at Rhinebeck Equine Hospital in Rhinebeck, New York told the Poughkeepsie Journal that Dr. Steiner was taken off life support on Monday morning at Albany Medical Center and died around 4pm. Dr. Steiner - a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, and former president of that organization - had moved back his native New York State earlier this year, having previously been located in Lexington, Kentucky, where he began the Equine Fertility Unit at the Hagyard-Davidson-McGee (now the Hagyard Equine Medical Center). This is an unsettling reminder that even the most knowledgeable and talented can experience tragic moments of danger when working with horses as a whole, and stallions in particular. Our deepest sympathies go out to Dr. Steiner's wife, family and friends.

Cloned Stallion Proven Fertile and Capable of Siring Healthy Foals!

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Pierazade Du Vialaret

Pierazade Du Vialaret
Pierazade Du Vialaret is the daughter of the clone "Pieraz Cryozootech Stallion" and Dziupla, one of the foundation mares the endurance specialists "Elevage du Vialaret" possess. She was born 5th May 2008. The first picture (at left top) was been taken the day of her birth and the second (bottom), a few days later.

Let's wish both Pierazade Du Vialaret and her breeder, Mr Genieys, success! Mr Genieys is the first breeder to own a foal which carries the genes of the Champion Pieraz.

This birth follows the birth of Pigaso. Pigaso is Promitia's foal, Promitia being the first mare Professor Galli cloned. Cryozootech hopes to breed Promitia this year to Pieraz Cryozootech.

Pieraz Cryozootech Stallion is approved as a stallion in the A.E.S. Studbook. His fresh semen is available from Equitechnic Laboratory for the 2008 breeding season.

By Carnet Rose for Cryozootech. Presented here courtesy of Cryozootech. For more details on semen availability, please visit Cryozootech's web site (page in French).
EVA Presentation Now Available on the Web site

The EVA presentation given by about Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) at the RPSI 30-day stallion test (see below) is now available on the web site in various formats. The format listing is available at

"Webinar" Presentation on EVA by

We will be giving a presentation on EVA (equine viral arteritis) tomorrow night (Wednesday April 2nd) at the final of the RPSI 30-day stallion testing held at Silver Creek Farms, Broken Arrow OK USA. The presentation, which starts at 7:00 pm Central US time, is to be "webcast" and should be viewable via the Internet.

To access the presentation, go to and follow the link at the left that reads "CLICK HERE TO VIEW FINAL TWO DAYS & EVA SEMINAR (link available on April 1st at 1:30 pm)".

Please be advised that we have had some issues attempting to open the web site using a "Firefox" browser (it intermittently locks up), although it opens in Internet Explorer with no issues.

We hope this may prove of interest and use to some of you!

Transported Semen Permits and Restrictions in the USA

Following the outbreak of Equine Viral arteritis (EVA) that significantly affected the Quarter Horse industry, some States are implementing and enforcing permit requirements with regard to shipped semen. One such State is Montana, which now requires a stallion owner to obtain a permit prior to shipment and use of semen shipped into that State. The permit application must be accompanied by a USDA-Aphis approved lab test result indicating that the stallion tested negative for antibodies to EIA (equine infectious anaemia) within the last 12 months prior to the application, and EVA within the last 6 months. If a stallion has been vaccinated against EVA, then proof of vaccination must be demonstrated. If the stallion has not been vaccinated, but has a positive titre for antibodies, then a virus isolation test of the semen must prove negative. Similar restrictions apply to the importation of stallions to Montana, although not if they are to be temporarily imported for competition. Importation and use of semen from positive and shedding stallions will not be permitted, and any veterinarian inseminating semen received without the requisite permit will be subject to sanction.

We at always strongly support education of the breeding public about the issues surrounding EVA, but we do have concerns about the degree of restriction and lack of uniformity of the requirements of a permit such as that of Montana. Our concerns are:
  • The USA does not restrict the importation of EAV-positive semen ("EAV" refers to the virus itself), and the disease is therefore present in the country as a whole. As the disease can be asymptomatic (present without visible symptoms) during its acute (infectious) stage, any horse - stallion, mare or gelding - could be infectious without signs, and yet with a permit such as Montana's there is no restriction outside the breeding male or his semen. The effectiveness of such a permit restriction is therefore severely limited and will primarily be an inconvenience to breeders.
  • Semen from "shedder" stallions can be safely used to breed mares as long as the mare has been previously and suitably vaccinated, or has been tested and shown as having sufficiently elevated antibody levels against the virus (possibly through previous exposure), and is kept quarantined for 21 days following the initial breeding. To prevent the importation and use of positive semen completely to the individual State when the disease is already present in the country is "overkill", and will be a significant issue for breeders who have an unfulfilled prior breeding to a positive (shedding) stallion, and may represent a restriction of trade to them and others. Requirement of a mare vaccination and quarantine protocol would be more suitable than completely restricting positive semen import.
  • As the enforcement is to be applied against veterinarians only (it being impractical and likely outside jurisdiction to apply it against lay persons), mare owners inseminating their own animals may still be able to import and use infective semen, which means that the restrictions applied against veterinarians are unreasonable, and again may represent a restriction of trade.
  • As each State has the potential to enact its own regulations regarding importation permits for semen, the stallion owner/manager is left in the untenable position of having to contact all 50 State Vet Boards and/or Departments of Agriculture to ensure current regulations. It would be more workable if individual States worked with USDA-Aphis to create a permit that could then be obtained from USDA-Aphis and be valid for all States. The alternative is to rely on better breeder education by the State Vet Boards, rather than requiring permits with significant failings.
    • We recommend that stallion owners have a clause in their breeding contracts requiring mare owners to notify them of any State permit requirements by the mare owner resident State in a suitable period prior to the anticipated shipment date, allowing the stallion owner sufficient time to obtain those permits.
    • We also recommend that all stallions be blood tested for EAV antibody presence prior to the beginning of the breeding season, and vaccinated if such vaccination is deemed suitable.
      • Note that annual revaccination is required to ensure protection and that proof of that revaccination should be required as part of the permit requirement, and requested by mare owners prior to breeding.
Washington State is a good example of a State that is using a combination of permit requirement, workable restrictions and breeder education. Washington State does allow importation of "positive" semen, but requires their permit and an accompanying statement that the mare owner has been notified of the "positive" state of the semen; agrees to follow certain recommendations regarding breeding with "positive" semen; and that they will accept the semen. One of the required recommendations is that the mare be vaccinated prior to breeding and undergo quarantine following breeding. Details of Washington State's permit requirements are available on the Washington Government web site.

Sad Loss to the Industry

It is with regret that we announce the death of Dr. Pedro Jou of Ayr Ontario, Canada. Dr. Jou was well known and respected for his equine reproductive work, in particular with embryo transfer. Through his web site "" he marketed frozen semen and embryos both from Europe and which had been frozen at his business location in Ayr. Dr. Jou will be sadly missed in the horse breeding community, in particular by his many clients.

Equine Cloning - The Next Generation

With the advent of the first equine clone, there was speculation by some as to whether the cloned animal would be reproductively sound. Researchers and scientist had no such doubts, and that has now been proven with the first pregnancies being announced in and by cloned horses.

Prof. Cesare Galli, from Italy, who was responsible for the first cloned horse, has announced that the clone Prometea (who was in fact a clone of her own dam) is pregnant and due to foal in 2008. Cryozootech have announced that "Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion" - an entire clone of the gelding "Pieraz" - has been bred to Dziupla, one of the best endurance mares in France from the Vialaret farm. This once again raises the question of the stance taken by some registries to not record or register cloned horses - there would have been no way genetically to differentiate the Pieraz clone's foal from a foal sired by Pieraz himself, had it not been for the fact that the original horse was a gelding!

UC-Davis Announces Test for HERDA

Researchers at the University of California (Davis) have developed a genetic test to identify carriers of the homozygous recessive gene that causes the skin disease HERDA (Hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia, also known as hyperelastosis cutis). Identification of animals that carry this gene prior to breeding will enable responsible breeders to either eliminate carrier stock from their herds or make educated breeding decisions with a view to achieving the prevention of an increase of the presence of this disorder and hopefully preventing it becoming as prevalent as HYPP did in the same breed. HERDA is found in Quarter Horses most commonly associated with certain cutting bloodlines. One unfortunate aspect of this disorder is that it may not become apparent in animals until they start to be worked under saddle, by which time they have often changed hands from the original breeder. The advent of this test will allow the breeders to determine the status of their breeding stock, thereby assisting in prevention of propagation of the problem.

Britain's Equine Fertility Unit Slated to Close

It seems likely that the Equine Fertility Unit (EFU) - an equine reproduction research facility - in Newmarket England is likely to close at the end of September. It has been in operation for many years and has achieved much useful research and many "firsts" over the last 37 years, with among other things identification of the "capsule" that surrounds the early conceptus; the significance of prostaglandins in producing estrus; early pregnancy recognition ("maternal recognition"); function of the equine placenta; the equine genome; and much more.

The cause of the closure is the failure of the Thoroughbred Breeder's Association (TBA) to continue its funding of the EFU. Previously the EFU had received £300,000 (US$595,000) per year from the TBA, but there was a need to increase this figure to £450,000 (US$892,000) for the next 10 years, which it appears was unacceptable to the TBA. In the realms of hard-sought research funding, the total of £4.5 million over the course of 10 years is not great, and the loss of this premier research facility should be considered a major blow to the equine community.

It is also worthy of note that there has been recent concern about the funding of the EFU by the TBA as a result of the EFU's involvement in research into advanced reproductive technologies including artificial insemination and embryo transfer, neither of which is permitted by any Thoroughbred registry world wide. If this is a significant cause of the loss of the funding, there can be little doubt that such a decision would be in the classic mode of "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face"!

Professor W.R. "Twink" Allen, head of the Equine Fertility Unit who was due to retire at the end of this year, has observed of the potential closure that it "is a nasty blow and I think it is short-sighted and stupid". along with many other researchers and individuals involved in equine reproduction are distressed at the potential closure, and would be happy to assist in passing on any communication from persons that may be prepared to invest in the funding for the survival of the Equine Fertility Unit and its important research - please contact us.

Another Gelding to Breed!

"Click" images to open larger image in new window
Scamper wins with no bridle - click to open larger image in new window
Scamper wins with no bridle!
(photo credit: Kenneth Springer)

Scamper's clone Clayton - click to open larger image in new window
Scamper's clone Clayton
(photo credit: Candace Dobson)

Clayton with Charmayne James - click to open larger image in new window
Clayton with Charmayne James
(photo credit: Candace Dobson)

In 1985 a plucky gelding and an even pluckier 15 year-old lady ran into the record books and the hearts of the American barrel-racing public. The gelding was a quarter horse called "Gills Bay Boy" - better known as "Scamper" - and the young lady was Charmayne James. Their amazing feat was winning the heat at the NFR for the barrel racing finals in 14.40 seconds - despite having no bridle in place - the bridle had broken during the run! Scamper and James went on to win the World Championship that year - being the second year for them to do so; another amazing feat being that James was only 14 years old when she won her first World Championship with Scamper - and for another 8 more years to follow!

Now, after both James and Scamper have retired from major competitions, they are once again making history! Scamper is undoubtedly the bearer of superior genetic performance material. As a gelding there has not been a way until recently for that genetic material to be passed on to the next generation. Scamper has been cloned! This means that the clone - named "Clayton" after James' childhood home where she and Scamper first met - once sexually mature, will have the potential to pass on those superior racing genes. ViaGen Inc. of Austin, TX and Charmayne James were today (11/15/06) pleased to present Clayton to the public for the first time.

This once again raises the question of whether the AQHA will develop some sort of registration and recordation system for cloned quarter horses and their offspring. It is unlikely that the cloning process is going to cease, and it seems regrettable that superior genetics such as "Scamper" should be witheld from American Quarter Horse breeders wishing to improve the quality of their own stock and that of the breed as a whole (see below)! Charmayne James in addressing our question on this topic at the news conference seemed positive that the issue will certainly be reviewed - let us hope so!

CEM Outbreak in Wisconsin

The OIE (Organisation Mondiale de la Santé Animale - World Organisation for Animal Health) yesterday (October 17th 2006) listed an outbreak of contagious equine metritis (CEM) on a farm in Mount Horeb, Dane County, Wisconsin USA, identified on October 4th. The disease has been identified in two Lipizzaner stallions that originated in Eastern Europe, but have been resident on the operation. 16 other susceptible animals have so far been identified as being healthy. CEM is a highly contagious sexually transmissible disease of horses that was last identified in an outbreak in the general equine population of the USA in 1997, although several cases have been identified in quarantine at the time of importation since then. Taylorella equigenitalis - a bacterium - is the causative agent. It is a notifiable disease with potential for significant negative impact in the case of a full-blown outbreak. Such an outbreak occurred in the USA and UK in the late 1970's and cost the Thoroughbred breeding industries there an estimated $60 million.

Gelding to Breed!?!

Cryozootech, the equine cloning pioneers have announced the birth of E.T.Cryozootech-Stallion, born on 2nd June 2006. This clone is an identical copy of the show jumper ET, who was twice winner of the World Cup, and number one on the World ranking for 3 years in a row - but with one (or rather two) very important differences! ET was a gelding - but this clone is of course an entire colt, and once he reaches sexual maturity he will have the potential to pass on the same genetic ability that ET himself would undoubtedly have done had he not been gelded as a three year-old. It is hoped that a few mares will be bred in 2008, producing long-awaited "ET" foals in 2009!

EVA Outbreak in New Mexico

There has been an outbreak of Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) at MJ Farms in Veguita, New Mexico, resulting in an estimated loss of 40% of on-farm pregnancies, as well as infection of stallions. EVA is primarily a respiratory disease, but has serious reproductive implications, as it can cause abortion in mares, and remain in the stallion's reproductive tract, being shed into semen at the time of ejaculation. This infected semen, if then introduced into non-protected mares, is likely to result in infection of that mare, with the potential for transmission to other horses, and the possibility of an abortion storm such as MJ Farms has experienced. As this is a virus, it cannot be controlled by the use of antibiotics, nor will it be destroyed by freezing. Consequently infected semen will remain infectious even if shipped cooled or frozen. The best form of control is preventative in the form of vaccination of susceptible animals. It should be noted that while the vaccine Arvac (Fort Dodge) is available in the USA, it may not be available in all countries, and indeed there may be local restrictions as to the use of such a vaccination. EVA in the animal may be asymptomatic, causing more problems as it may not be recognised that there is an active infectious state until serious repercussions such as abortion or pregnancy failures become apparent. As it is primarily a respiratory disease, it can be spread by aerosol transmission rather than sexually, presenting further complications as asymptomatic but infectious animals may be present at shows and other equine gatherings unbeknownst to other attendees - or even the owners themselves.

Don't Panic!!

It is important to emphasize that EVA is not a disease to be panicked about, but rather a disease to be managed - something achieved easily with the appropriate vaccinations. It is not a new disease and appears to have been around for possibly over 100 years, although it was not specifically identified until more recently in the 1950's. Dr. Peter Timoney of the Gluck Center in Lexington KY, USA is a world-renowned expert on EVA (the virus itself incidentally is known as "equine arteritis virus" or EAV, while the disease is "equine vial arteritis" or EVA), and has prepared a comprehensive article on the disease entitled Equine Viral Arteritis: Is the Disease a Cause for Industry Concern? (available in Adobe .pdf format at that link - but note that at 12 Meg it is a large file). It is certainly an article that is food for thought!

Dead heat?
Racing clones - click to open larger image in new window

Racing clones - click to open larger image in new window
Racing Clones at Winnemucca
Photo courtesy of, and © The Humboldt (Nev.) Sun
Well, not quite! The two mule clones - both carriers of identical DNA donated by a full sibling to the racing mule "Taz" - Idaho Gem and Idaho Star raced against each other in Winnemucca NV on Sunday (June 5th, '06). Almost everyone was hoping for a dead heat, as of course in theory that would have proven the "identical" aspect of cloning, but it didn't turn out that way. The two clones have been in training for a while for this big day, but with different trainers, and both won their qualifying heats at Winnemucca in order to end up racing against each other in the final with six other mules. As it turned out, Idaho Gem came home in third place (with Bar JF Hot Ticket the winner), while Idaho Star came in in seventh place! Oh well, a fairytale ending to this great expectation would have been too good to be true! It certainly did demonstrate though that the nature vs nurture concept does play a large part to success in racing, as things did not go as smoothly as they might for Idaho Star, who did not have his regular jockey on Sunday, and seemed to stall out on the rail at one point. It will be interesting to see what happens the next time they meet on the track!

Resolution of "Tennessee Situation"

The Tennessee Veterinary Board has decided that the practice of artificial insemination in the equine should be considered a non-veterinary or "exempt" procedure, which is in keeping with most other States and Provinces in North America. Persons who have been fined in the recent round of court cases related to the issue are to have their fines refunded, and any other penalties reversed. We are relieved that common sense has finally prevailed...

Clones of '06!

The first clone foals of 2006 are starting to arrive! At Royal Visa Southwest in Purcell OK on February 19th, a clone of the AQHA champion cutting horse mare Royal Blue Boon was born. On March 9th a clone of the AQHA mare Tap O Lena was born, and two clones of the quarter horse mare Bet Yer Blue Boons are anticipated any day. ViaGen and Encore Genetics, the companies responsible for the cloning process, reports there are to be a total of seven clone foals to be born this year as a result of their work.

In an unconfirmed report, there are believed to have been 5 foal clones of the Quarter Horse Smart Little Lena born in Texas in a cloning project performed at Texas A&M University. [Note - since initially going to press this has now been confirmed].

At this time, the cloned animals will remain unregisterable as a result of the AQHA position on registration of cloned foals outlined below. The Zangersheide Registry in Europe remains the only registry with forward-vision to have actually registered a clone foal.

Charges Filed in Tennessee AI Situation

Charges have been filed and court dates set for early April (2006) in the ongoing AI situation in Tennessee. Persons previously notified by the Veterinary Board that they have been considered to be in contravention of the Veterinary Practice Act as a result of their performing artificial insemination in mares have now been formerly charged and given a court date for early April.

In the Tennessee Legislature, Bills are being submitted and withdrawn, with the currently most favoured Bill considers equine AI to be a veterinary procedure that will require the indirect supervision of a veterinarian - despite the fact that this is in opposition to the recommendations made to the Legislature last week (see below). This is particularly surprising, as this Bill has been authored by Eric Swafford, an MTSU graduate with a degree in Animal Science. The surprising aspect is that as the holder of such a degree, he would in all probability have been taught how to perform equine AI even though he is not a veterinarian, and one would think would understand the ramifications and impact of authoring such a restrictive Bill!

The Tennessee Veterinary Board is itself scheduled to meet April 17th for a proposed Rule Making Hearing. During this session there will be further discussion as to the standing of a variety of equine reproductive procedures, including semen collection, which has always been considered to be a non-veterinary procedure even in countries with more restrictive veterinary laws such as the United Kingdom!

In an interesting but unfortunate adjunct to these assisted reproductive troubles in Tennessee, we had an attendee at our course held recently in Tennessee who had just - in the last year - moved to Tennessee from New Jersey with their entire warmblood breeding operation. They are now intending to leave Tennessee in the event that these restrictive reproductive veterinary laws are enacted. One cannot help but wonder how many other breeders will follow this lead, and what negative impact this will have on the Tennessee equine agricultural industry, which is currently worth millions of dollars annually to the State. It may well be that the Legislature and many others in Tennessee do not realise that Tennessee has the second highest horse population of any State in the US behind Texas. There are approximately 185,000 horses in Tennessee (National Agricultural Statistics Service, March 2, 2003) and the State motto is "Agriculture and Commerce". It seems that the State motto sadly does not apply to the average horse breeder in the Tennessee.

Tennessee Legislature Hears Support for Equine AI being Considered a Non-Veterinary Procedure

At several recent meetings of the Tennessee legislature, representation has been made by multiple parties supporting a Bill currently before the House that legislates AI to be a non-veterinary procedure. The Bill also rescinds penalties that have been paid by persons previously considered to be in contravention of the Veterinary Practice Act for their performing AI in the equine. Representatives from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Middle Tennessee Academy of Equine Practitioners presented material in keeping with their position of support for the Bill from other groups and individuals such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and specialists respected in the equine reproductive industry such as Dr. Michelle Leblanc. This presentation can be viewed in streaming video in the agricultural session of February 28th 2006 by going to the streaming video section of the TN House of Representatives (the link is in the drop down section under "committee meetings" as "Agriculture - 02/28/06" and is towards the end of the presentation). There have been a number of Bills similar to the current Bill in the recent history of the Legislature and it is hoped that this current Bill will be debated and voted upon by the end of March.

Tennessee Veterinary Board Meets in AI Situation

On February 16th the Tennesee Veterinary Board met to consider the ongoing AI-by-the-lay-person situation in that State (see below). The legal team for the TN Farm Bureau and two of the people accused of performing AI without a veterinary license presented the argument that the regulations exceeded the authority of the Veterinary Practice Act (VPA). The VPA doesn't define AI as veterinary medicine, although it was common at the time the Act was passed. The Act does specifically state that embryo transfer is a veterinary procedure as well as some other breeding practices, but does not mention AI. The legal team made the point that the courts had repeatedly and consistently ruled that if the legislature had wanted AI to be a vet act they would have identified it as such. One of the purposes of the meeting was that the Vet board was to decide if they had exceeded the bounds of the Act, and by a vote of 3 to 2 they decided they had not exceeded the Act, although they were looking at additional rule making to allow AI.

We feel confident that this will continue to be an ongoing matter and will report upon it as we are made aware of developments.

Renowned Veterinary Researcher Receives Prestigious Award

We are delighted to be able to offer congratulations to Dr. Dirk Vanderwall on his being awarded the accolade of "Theriogenologist of the Year for 2005". Dr. Vanderwall, who received the award in recognition of his expertise in clinical theriogenology, has performed research in a variety of areas of equine reproduction, assisting in development of essential knowledge to aid in the breeding of horses and other equids, but is perhaps best known in his role as lead researcher in the development of the first cloned equids. Dr. Vanderwall was kind enough to consent to becoming one of's veterinary advisors several years ago, and we are extremely happy that he has received this award of peer recognition for his valuable research and practical expertise.

New Gestational Duration Records Set in Australia

Lasca Bowcocks foal - click to enlarge Until recently the record gestation for a horse was reputed to be 417 days, but that record has been well beaten by some Thoroughbred mares in Australia! "Sangam" owned by Lasca Bowcock (Scone, NSW), foaled after 421 days on the 8th of December (see photo at left), which was thought to be quite a new record! At almost the same time though, a second mare - Corona Star - was giving birth in Euroa, Victoria after 445 days of gestation! Corona Star and the new foal are owned by Chris Gliddon.
Tennessee Veterinary Board Pursues action over Breeders performing Artificial Insemination

The Tennessee Veterinary Board has ordered the State to take action against breeders in Tennessee who have inseminated mares other than their own. The Board indicates that this is in contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated sec. 63-12-119, which references "the practice of veterinary medicine without a license". "Consent Orders" have been issued by the Office of General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Health instead of pursuing formal disciplinary proceedings. These reportedly allow recipients to pay a settlement fine of $750 for each year of having performed AI on animals other than their own, rather than being formerly charged under the Act. It is our understanding that 96 such letters have been issued to date.

Not surprisingly, many breeders are resisting the actions of the Veterinary Board and have retained a legal firm to defend their case. The Chattanooga-based firm - Miller and Martin PLLC - may be reached at (423) 756-6600. The Tennessee Farm Bureau has also become involved supporting the breeders, with their position reported as being that the actions of the Veterinary Board exceeded the authority of the Act.

The issue will receive further review during a meeting of the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Board which commences at 9:00 am on December 8th and 9th. The meeting location is the Tennessee Room, Ground Floor, Cordell Hull Building, 425 Fifth Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37247 and is open to the general public.

We hope to keep you apprised of this ongoing situation.

Cloning is Here to Stay!

Clone Carriers!
Mares carrying cloned foals in Oklahoma
The combined efforts of animal cloning leader ViaGen Inc. of Austin, TX and performance horse marketing experts Encore Genetics Ltd. (Weatherford, TX, USA) is set to present as many as 30 (thirty) cloned foals next year with foalings starting in February. The DNA source for the clones is described as being "six high-profile performance horses". Breed and discipline are at this time unannounced, although it has been reported that they are not of the Thoroughbred breed, the Registry for which remains resistant to anything but live cover techniques, regardless of the safety of animals and personnel. Royal Vista Southwest has provided the recipient mares for the process, and it is in Purcell Oklahoma that the foals will begin to be born next (2006) spring.
Just to add to the "clone melting pot", in a different project, it appears that there are a projected 9 (nine) clones of the Quarter Horse stallion Smart Little Lena due to be foaled next year at Texas A&M University (College Station, TX, USA). As we noted above, cloning equines is definitely here to stay, and we are glad to see pro-activity in the Registry world with Zangersheide leading the way in issuing registration documents. If this were to be coupled with micro-chipping, we suspect that it would go a long way to avoiding confusion and mix-ups once the clones themselves start to reproduce. It would seem logical to issue a Registration document with the same number as the originating DNA animal, plus a suffix indicating a clone. For example, with Smart Little Lena one might see clones identified with the Registration numbers 1565822(a); 1565822(b); 1565822(c) etc. Such an identification is going to be necessary, as once the male offspring have become sexually mature, any offspring produced by a clone will have identical DNA to an animal produced by the original cloned animal. This means that semen collected, frozen and subsequently used to breed mares cannot be differentiated from semen from the original stallion that was cloned. It would seem therefore essential that some form of "paper trail" be developed before too many cloned colts reach sexual maturity! Pro active would seem to be the way to be, not re active! We will be interested to see what AQHA's response is, but at the moment it does not look promising - AQHA rule 227 specifically states:
          (a)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 an embryo is removed, 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.
The only trouble with this is that any offspring of a clone produced by normal breeding methods is not going to be eligible for registration, as a result of the sire or dam having been ineligible - even though clones are just "twins separated in time". It's going to be interesting...!

Database Lists Stallions whose Semen we have Frozen

We are pleased to present a partial database of stallions whose semen has been frozen by This database is searchable by stallion name or breed, and if listed a link is provided to a page with further information about the stallion and contact information for the owners/managers. A stallion listing does not necessarily indicate availability for breeding by frozen semen, as some owners have had their stallions' semen frozen for future use. Please contact the owner directly from the page provided for that stallion. We have attempted to contact all stallion owners with whom we have had the pleasure of doing business, but some of our contact information was out of date, so if you are an owner whom we have not been able to contact and would like to have your stallion listed, please contact us!

Leading horse cloning company Cryozootech receives Zangersheide passports for cloned foals
(Article courtesy of Cryozootech)
Clone of Pieraz
Pieraz-Cryozootech-stallion, the clone of Pieraz

Clone of Quidam de Revel
Paris-Texas, now revealed to be a clone of Quidam de Revel
In September 2005 at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken (Belgium), Cryozootech presented "Pieraz-Cryozootech-stallion", the clone of Pieraz, twice world champion in endurance. Equine specialists present were given the opportunity to evaluate the horse and observe the obvious health and good condition of the animal. A second Cryozootech cloned foal "Paris-Texas" was presented on video at the Zangersheide press conference. This second horse - a clone of the world famous showjumper Quidam de Revel - had been cloned at the request of the owner.

During the press conference Dr. Eric Palmer, the Cryozootech CEO, was pleased to receive passports from Stud-book Zangersheide for both "Pieraz-Cryozootech-stallion" and "Paris-Texas", thereby providing official recognition and documentation for both cloned foals.

Early in 2001, Stud Book Zangersheide had received a request from Dr. Palmer, founder of Cryozootech, asking whether they would register cloned horses. On May 29th, the board of directors of Studbook Zangersheide made a resolution that cloned horses could be registered in the studbook if the DNA profile of the donor was recorded in the files of the studbook and the clone's profile was identical. The clone would receive the same paper as the original with a number and the indication of the cloning process (CL). The two foals have fulfilled the conditions required by the studbook, and they receive the first passports of cloned horses issued by Zangersheide Stud Book.
The clones keep-a-coming!

It has been announced that yet another cloned equine has joined the cloned stable, making a current known total of six (three mules, three horses)! Researcher Katrin Hinrichs, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A and M University headed a team working in conjunction with French scientist Dr. Eric Palmer of Cryozootech, the producers of the first cloned equine announced this year. The latest clone is of an unnamed European performance stallion. The donor cells were skin cells collected and processed in Europe and then shipped to TAMU for the actual cloning process to be performed. The resulting foal - a bay colt named "Paris Texas" - was the only successful result from 400 originating DNA-transfers.

Another cloned horse born in Italy

A second cloned horse has been born in Italy - also the second only in the world. On February 25th, 2005. The clone "Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion" (called "Pieraz II" for short!) is the clone of 1994 and 1996 world endurance champion Pieraz, owned by US horsewoman Valerie Kanavy. In an interesting twist, the champion Pieraz is a gelding and therefore unable to reproduce by the usual method. With the production of the clone, there is now the possibility of the continuance of the bloodlines, as it is intended that Pieraz II will remain a stallion and therefore be able to breed.

The fact that the genetic source cloned animal - a gelding - will be able to reproduce raises some interesting points. Not the least of these interesting points is the issue of "gene expression". Although a cloned animal is genetically identical to the source animal, it has been seen that it will not necessarily be physically or mentally identical. recently visited again with the cloned mules. All three of the "identical" clones were there - Idaho Gem, Utah Pioneer and Idaho Star. Idaho Gem and Utah Pioneer were - as ever - happy to see visitors and be scratched. They are also dark brown. Idaho Star however is more shy and retiring, and although he eventually comes and visits, he takes his time to get there. He is also a lighter brown colour overall. How can that be? They are all genetically identical! Gene expression is in all probability the reason. Which leads to the interesting question - will a foal sired by a clone of a champion gelding be the same offspring as if it had been sired by the champion himself? Genetically maybe....

Improved Bulletin Board!

The Bulletin Board is now configured to allow registration. Becoming a member of the board allows you multiple privileges, such as being able to edit and delete your messages, receive notification of posts in any or all topics, and remain permanently logged in (using a cookie). We hope you find these additional attributes of value and assistance. A.I. technicians DEFRA certified A.I. technicians recently travelled to England and received DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) certification for the performance of artificial insemination of equines. The United Kingdom has a requirement to complete a government-accredited course before certification is approved under The Veterinary Surgery (Artificial Insemination of Mares) Order 2004.

Renowned Researcher Joins Veterinary Consultant and Advisory Board

We are delighted to announce that the renowned equine reproduction researcher Dirk Vanderwall DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT has graciously agreed to join our veterinary consultant and advisory board. Dr. Vanderwall gained international recognition as one of the leaders of the combined teams from the Universities of Idaho and Utah State to produce the first cloned equid (see also below for details).

Veterinarian Continuing Education Credits now offered by is pleased to announce that our Twin Falls, Idaho (February 5th and 6th, 2005) equine reproduction short course is approved for 21 hours Continuing Education (CE) credits for Idaho licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Texas veterinary technicians have been able to obtain maximum CE credits from our courses for some time.

In keeping with our continued service-based philosophy, our University of New Hampshire, Tennessee and North Carolina locations were also approved for CE credits. More sites will be approved, and the short course information page will be updated to reflect that accordingly.

In the event that you are a veterinarian or technician from another State, and would like your State to approve the courses for CE credits, please have the Veterinary Board from your State contact us by telephone or e-mail to discuss requirements.

FDA takes action against US veterinary compounding pharmacy

Are you in the USA, and do you use Progesterone and Estradiol (P&E) in your breeding program? (And even if you don't this may well still affect you!)

Last year, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) on compounding for animals that disallows all compounding from bulk ingredients, a ban that is in our - and other's - opinons unjustified and threatens the health and well-being of many animal patients including horses.

The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) among others mounted a campaign in response to the FDA ruling, and thousands of pharmacists, veterinarians, and pet owners wrote letters to the FDA asking that the Vet CPG be withdrawn and reissued in draft form to allow for revision of the problematic portions of the guidance. The CPG was not however withdrawn, and in fact, the issue has now been stepped up, as last week (August 12th, 2004) FDA personel raided BET Pharm, LLC, a well-known veterinary compounding pharmacy in Lexington, Kentucky USA. This raid followed issuance of a warning letter by the FDA last November, and resulted in the impounding of certain compounded products at the BET Pharm facility, pending a decision as to the next actions to be taken by FDA and BET Labs in a legal capacity.

That the FDA has continuously ignored the public outcry against the CPG, in spite of IACP's numerous conciliatory efforts, and taken this action is a major cause for concern. This concern is compounded by the news that there are allegedly an additional 20 compounding pharmacies that are to be targeted for similar action. Additionally, in April FDA sent a letter to all State boards of pharmacy asking for their cooperation in conducting inspections to determine the scope of the "illegal" veterinary compounding activity. These developments make this issue increasingly urgent for those impacted by the CPG!

We at intend to keep our visitors informed of the ongoing situation, and offer suggestions as to actions that you, as members of the public, can take to aid in reaching a favourable resolution of the situation that will continue to allow breeders access to such important drugs as the progesterone and estradiol combination that we favour so much for control of the estrous cycle. Note that these of course are not the only drugs that are affected, and horses are not the only species that are affected! This ongoing FDA action will ultimately affect all veterinary compounded products.

Vaccination of pregnant mares with the West Nile Virus vaccine:

It was brought to our attention several times during the past breeding season that there exists a site on the Internet ("The Lost Foals Group") which alleges a connection between the West Nile Virus vaccine and pregnancy problems. We at believe it is extremely important that all viewers of that site are made aware that nowhere on that site is there a single shred of scientific evidence supporting the claims. We are personally acquainted with some of the researchers who evaluated the safety of the vaccine for use in pregnant mares, as well as some of the farms where the research was performed. Neither the researchers nor the farms found any evidence of a problem. We do however believe that one important thing should be brought to everyone's attention - inoculation with any vaccine during the first 45 days of pregnancy can result in pregnancy loss (in fact it is preferable for mares to be kept toxin free during the first 90 days of pregnancy), and yet we are repeatedly coming across incidences where mares have been inoculated with WNV vaccine during those first 45 days. Keep your mares toxin-free for the first 90 days of pregnancy! - do not vaccinate, deworm or expose your mare to any toxin-related situation during that time frame.

We consider the above-mentioned site so unworthy of promotion that we will not present the URL here. We do however encourage you to review the article discussing the site presented by Dr. Traci Hulse of Durango Equine Veterinary Clinic (article no longer available at the Durango Equine website), as well as some of our own personal observations which we placed in a thread on our bulletin board to be found here.

World's First Cloned Equids

Idaho Gem
Kathy St.Martin of
meets with Idaho Gem and researcher
Dr. Dirk Vanderwall at U-Idaho
(The shyer Utah Pioneer can also be
seen nursing in the background)

On May 29th, 2003 the combined research teams from the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory (University of Idaho) and Utah State University announced the birth of a live cloned mule - the first equid to have ever been successfully cloned. The foal was born on May 4th, 2003. This is momentous news for the equine industry and we would like to congratulate the combined research teams on their success, as well as thanking them for this opportunity to be a primary disseminator of the news! A detailed article is available on our site here.

The world of Equid cloning moved forward again on May 28th 2003, with the announcement of the successful foaling of a cloned horse. Researchers from the Laboratory of Reproductive Technology, a nonprofit research organization in Cremona, Italy, have produced a live foal cloned from skin cells from its own dam - so essentially the mare gave birth to herself! The outcome was not without a lot of effort - starting with more than 800 manipulated oocytes, only twenty-two successfully developed into seven-day-old embryos, of which 17 were then transferred into nine mares with four resulting pregnancies of which "Prometea" is the sole survivor.

On June 9th 2003, a second mule clone "Utah Pioneer" joined his brother, "Idaho Gem", as the only equine clones in the world, and then on July 27th, a third cloned mule foal - "Idaho Star" - was born!

Appaloosa Horse Club Approves use of Frozen Semen

We would like to welcome Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) breeders to the world of frozen semen use! This is the first breeding season in which frozen semen could be used to produce Appaloosa foals eligible for registration with the Association. We applaud both the AQHA and the ApHC for their support of this valuable technology for breeders.

Incidence of MRLS reduced

As we enter the latter portion of the 2003 breeding and foaling season, it is relieving to report that although there were documented cases of MRLS this year, the number of affected animals was not as great as in the last two years. For up to date information on mare reproductive loss syndrome, please visit this page on our site, which also includes links to other sites providing information on the topic.

Equine Reproduction Expert Joins Team!

We are delighted to announce that world-renowned equine reproduction specialist Dr. Jonathan F Pycock, B.Vet.Med., Ph.D., D.E.S.M., M.R.C.V.S. has joined our team of veterinary consultants. In addition, we will also be adding a selection of articles on different aspects of equine reproduction by Dr. Pycock in our articles section. Attends ISER

We were pleased to have been invited to participate in the 8th International Symposium on Equine Reproduction, with the opportunity to send a delegate to attend. After an exciting 6 days of information-packed scientific paper presentations by some of the worlds' leading equine reproduction researchers, not to mention extended discussions outside the meetings, we have returned home and look forward to being able to pass details of many of the newest technologies on to the general public via this web site.

AQHA Changes Rules on Embryo Transfer

In a landmark decision, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has changed it's policy of registering only one foal produced through the use of embryo transfer from a single mare per breeding season. The change, which will come into full effect in July and be retroactive, means that there will be no restrictions on the number of foals that can be registered as being produced from a single mare in any given year. There had been an ongoing court battle during which the Texas Court system had ruled three times that such a restrictive registry rule was a "limitation of trade". In addition, the AQHA has reversed a previous policy which limited the registration of foals produced by the use of frozen semen used after a stallions death to those foals produced only as a result of breedings completed no later than the end of the calendar year of the stallions' death. Frozen semen may now continue to be used until all supplies are exhausted. The AQHA's decisions are heralded by all of us at as well as many others as being healthy ones for both Quarter Horses and the entire equine industry, as it is likely that this will cause other registries that still have similar restrictions in place to remove them. at the Appaloosa World Show at the Appaloosa World Show!We were recently pleased to be able to assist the Appaloosa Horse Club (of America) which is in the process of considering approval of the use of frozen semen by offering a free informational seminar on the subject to persons attending the 2001 World Championship Appaloosa Horse Show in Fort Worth, Texas. It was great to have the opportunity to assist in this important step for Appaloosa breeders!