The cutting horse industry has been on the forefront of equine cloning, with one of the reasons being that horses don’t need to be registered to compete at National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA)-approved events. That wasn’t the case at the Breeder’s Invitational (BI, however, where amateur Jason Abraham was not allowed to show his two 4-year-old mares – Rubys Metallic Matti and Metallic Lil Melody – both sired by Metallic Cat and out clone mares.
Abraham, of Canadian, Texas, submitted his Amateur and Unlimited Amateur entries in early April for this year’s show, which began May 9 and runs through May 23 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In early May, he was told his entries were canceled and his entry fees would be refunded.
“The horses I’m showing are out of clones. They’re not clones, they’re just out of clones,” said Abraham, who is one of the plaintiffs in the high-profile lawsuit against the American Quarter Horse Association over the registration of clones and their offspring. “The [American] Quarter Horse Association doesn’t recognize them yet. What Bob O’Bannon told me was if they don’t have parentage verification, they can’t show there.”
Abraham has been showing both mares since the 2014 NCHA Futurity, where each were Limited Non-Pro semifinalists. Both mares have become limited-age event finalists with Abraham since then. Rubys Metallic Matti finished sixth in the Amateur at the Bonanza Cutting in February and tied for seventh in the Unlimited Amateur at the Abilene Spectacular in January. Metallic Lil Melody was third in the Unlimited Amateur and fourth in the Amateur at the Abilene Spectacular, and ended up fifth in the Amateur at The Cattlemen’s Derby in March.
In order to do so, Abraham filed all of the appropriate paperwork to identify both mares as unregistered horses with the NCHA. The NCHA Rule Book requires several items to identify an unregistered horse, including a verified bill of sale, pictures and a veterinarian’s statement attesting to the horse’s age.
“Everything that I sent in for the NCHA card is way more than what AQHA requires [to register a horse],” Abraham said. “We had to do five pictures, I had to prove when we bred them and when they were foaled, and the breeder of the horses had to sign off. Waco Bend [Ranch] owned them. It was a mess, but we got it done. Now when I go to any NCHA show, I just hand them their card and it’s good. The worst thing about it is I’ve got NCHA cards [for the mares] and I’m getting excluded from an NCHA-approved show.
The BI rules state: “Identification of Horses: A photocopy of the registration certificate must be forwarded to the BI business office with each entry. The board of Directors of the Breeder’s Invitational has the right to request DNA certification of any horse entered prior to the event. The expense for this testing shall be paid for by the horse owner in advance. All finalists in all classes may be DNA sampled by the Breeder’s Invitational. The expense for any finalist sampling will be paid by the Breeder’s Invitational. If for lack of cooperation or results of the test, the Directors have the right to disqualify any entry from the competition and keep any entry fees paid and any premiums earned.”
“[The NCHA] gave him an unregistered number, but that’s not a registration. For the NCHA, it doesn’t matter who the horse is. They can cut with anything, as long as it’s the right age. They don’t care. But for our deal, it’s critical. I pay money to those stallion owners and I pay money to the mare owners,” said BI Executive Director O’Bannon.
Stallion owners become BI members by paying into the program annually to make offspring of their stallion eligible to compete. The stallion owner and mare owner split 60/40 a payout of 10 percent of what each finalist is paid in all of the Derby classes.
“Our show requires registration or DNA, and they didn’t have either one and couldn’t get it. That’s why I disqualified him,” O’Bannon continued. “We tried to figure out a way to make it happen, but we couldn’t do it.”
Horses ineligible for AQHA registration have competed at the BI before, most recently 2008 gelding That Sly Bob (DNA) (That Sly Cat x Cotton Candy (DNA) x Bob Acre Doc), who tied for 11th in the 5/6-Year-Old Non-Pro and 10th in the Unlimited Amateur last year with Christy Leeth. That Sly Bob, and at least four other BI money-earners dating back to 2003, are registered with the National DNA Horse Registry.
At least one clone offspring already has National DNA Horse Registry papers. Back To The Future (DNA), who is sired by High Brow Cat and out of Serendipity Again, the clone of Doc’s Serendipity, was issued DNA papers in 2011. The 2009 gelding earned $6,148 while competing at five different shows in 2012. Abraham said he has been trying to contact the National DNA Registry for some time now with no success. Calls placed by Quarter Horse News to the registry’s last known phone number were also not returned.
Rubys Metallic Matti has earnings of $2,205 this year, while Metallic Lil Melody has banked $3,900. Abraham said neither mare is entered at the NCHA Summer Spectacular, but that he is considering purchasing a slot. While it’s likely both mares will add to their Equi-Stat records in the coming months, it won’t be at the BI.
“They’re 4-year-olds, so they’re still hit or miss, but we still love them,” Abraham said.
Story courtesy of Quarter Horse News