Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Question Of Artificial Insemination

The Racing recently asked its readers the question: Q: Should the ban on artificial insemination in thoroughbred breeding be abolished?

By and large, the responses were opposed to artificial insemination:

In May, a Blood-Horse blog The Five-Cross Files by Scot Gillies also addressed this issue:

It’s been a long-standing tradition that the British and American Jockey clubs will not register a horse that has been produced from artificial insemination.

I personally think that tradition is a good idea. Artificial insemination, in my opinion, would not improve the breed.

The great Italian Breeder and trainer Federico Tesio also was not in favor of artificial insemination.

In twenty years of study on this subject, Tesio noted in his book written in 1947 Puro-Sangue – Animale Da Esperimento (The Pure Blood – An Animal of Experimentation) that there had never been a Thoroughbred produced from artificial insemination to win a classic or semi-classic race anywhere in the world. His book has since been translated and published in 2005 by the Russell Meerdink Company, Ltd. as Tesio: In His Own Words.

As Science continues to make advances in genetics this most likely will continue to be an ongoing debate.

What do you think?


  1. Mr. Carter,
    I wanted to discuss something with you, but didn't want to do it in Dan's IIlman's blog column in the DRF. Of course I'm going on the assumption you remember me from that blog.
    As you know there has been much talk lately about the rash of breakdowns at DMR. Is it the track, is it over medicated infirm horses and I just think making blanket statements is futile and detremental to the problem as I see it. That is why I'm writing to you.

    Being involved in pedigree strains, I'm taking for granted your also very knowledgable about a horses conformation and balance. I've been around horses in one capacity or another since I was 10 and I can see a physical difference in horses we breed today. Subtle differences, but when you consider the balance of a racehorse subtle differences can mean alot. I just see horses with more musculature in the shoulders and hindquarters, in their power zones, but on much more spindly legs. Especially in the area just above the hoof. A horse needs to be balanced to generate speed, endurance and to have an effortless as possible stride. A horse that comes to mind as being powerfully built, but off "balance" was Danzig. When he ran the torque generated by his musculature just seemd to corkscrew him into the ground. The first time i saw him run I tought, wow....but he won't last long and he didn't. With or propensity to breed faster and faster horses, I beleive we're getting away from that balance. There is physical limitationa to what a horse can do and were pushing that limit. It's no wonder were seeing an increase in catastrophic breakdowns. But we come up with band aid solutions, change the track surface, approve medications etc. It's just my contention that it's the result of our breeding practices and they need to be addressed. So I was just wondering what your opinion is on this matter. Mike A

  2. Mike A,

    I believe that the problem of breakdowns is very complex and it will take more than switching the track surface from dirt to artificial to fix it.

    One thing is encouraging, the issue is now being scrutinized much more closely than in the past and that should lead to improvements.

    No one knows for sure what causes breakdowns but there are some things that could be done to help minimize them.

    Better maintenance of existing dirt track surfaces will definitely help.

    Improved breeding practices insuring that in addition to speed, stamina and hardiness are also a part of the genetic equation.

    Complete elimination of all drugs would also go a long way to help improve the breed. Federico Tesio was opposed to doping racehorses. He said that practice led to the deteriorization of the breed and any horse that had been on drugs was no good for the breeding shed.

    Insuring that trainers and farriers are highly qualified to care for their horses; making sure that unfit and poorly equiped horses are not being sent to the track will also help.

    I am sure that there are many more things that could be done to help.

    Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal newspaper did an expose about this topic earlier this year and addressed a lot of the issues that may lead to catastrophic breakdowns.

    Here's the link: