Hoof-Care for the Cloned Horse

Farriers might be seeing double, but the feet are unique

Five identical horses awaited Texas-based farrier Virgil Conde at a former client’s farm. Each was a clone of an elite Arabian halter horse. It wasn’t quite like seeing double since their white markings varied. Some had stockings, others didn’t. One had a blaze; another had no white on the face. Even the hoof pigmentation was different with some having white feet and others dark.

“These horses looked identical,” Conde says, “but the white markings didn’t carry over the same.”

Except for color variations, it’s unsurprising that clones look similar because they are a carbon copy of the animal they are cloned from. In nature, identical twins are technically clones. When the embryo splits, each receives the same DNA. Cloned animals are created scientifically through a nuclear transfer rather than an embryo split, but the results are similar. In humans, identical twins can be nearly impossible to distinguish on looks alone, but their personalities can be drastically different. Anecdotally, Conde has observed that the behavior of cloned horses may be as similar as their physical appearance.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Clones are genetically identical to the horse they were created from, but when it comes to their feet, they are very much individuals.
  • What is known and discussed about foot morphology of clones is anecdotal; no scientific studies have been conducted to date.
  • Hoof structure is often at the bottom of the list when breeding is considered and that presents challenges for cloned horses as well as live cover/insemination and embryo foals.


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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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