A legal battle over the ownership of frozen semen from top dressage stallion Lingh is proving to be a wake-up call for British breeders.
“We all need to learn from this case,” said Jan Rogers, who is the head of equine development at the British Equestrian Federation.
“Guidelines are lagging behind the science in the breeding industry, which is moving fast, and with frozen semen and embryo transfer increasingly being used for sport horses, we need to learn how to protect our interests.”
US rider Karin Reid-Offield, who owns Lingh, a Dutch warmblood by Flemmingh out of Columbus, won a law suit against his previous owner because he would not return several hundred straws of frozen semen.
Ms Reid-Offield bought the stallion in November 2006 with an agreement that Theo van Sadelhoff could use the frozen semen for the 2007 breeding season, and return what was left in storage to her.
Lingh’s breeding manager Susanne Hassler said winning the court case was important for Lingh’s career as a stallion.
“Lingh is currently competing, so the inventory [of frozen semen] is all we have to carry on his lines at the moment,” she said. “We are now able to move ahead with selected mare owners in the US and Europe for this season.”
Jan Rogers has been helping to set up the lead body for British Performance Sport Horses and Ponies (news, 22 November 2007), and plans to raise issues from Lingh’s court case at a series of roadshows planned for later this year.
“This is a wake-up call, because contractual issues like this are not on our radar and they need to be,” she said.
Ms Roger’s views are echoed by Tessa Clarke, manager at West Kington Stud, who said: “We have strict guidelines with contracts for storage and paperwork for proper returns, but it becomes a grey area when a stallion changes hands.”
Tullis Matson of Stallion AI Services at Twemlows Hall Stud Farm, who stores frozen semen from over 400 stallions, said the case highlights the need for clarity in sale contracts — particularly if semen has been frozen.
Mr Matson said: “It is important to agree before the sale is closed who owns any frozen semen and how it may be used. Storage is usually in the hands of a third party who gets caught in a dispute.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (15 May, ’08). To be among the first to read H&H’s exclusive news get your copy of the magazine every Thursday.