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Germany

Breeder sues over lost frozen semen of German Olympic stallion

A horse breeder is suing a veterinarian 60,000 euros for failing to return the frozen semen of top German Olympic stallion Carthago. A judge is to rule on the case on May 2.

German rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on horse Checkmate, jumping over an obstacle during the jumping competition Stawag Prize at the 2010 World Equestrian Festival CHIO 2010 in Aachen, Germany.

Show jumping is big business

Being able to afford the expensive semen of top stallions in the hope of breeding champion offspring is a breeder's dream come true. But it's a nightmare when something goes wrong - such as when the semen goes missing and is feared stolen.

That's allegedly what happened to a breeder in the southeastern German city of Ebermannstadt. He is suing a veterinarian for 60,000 euros ($84,525) for failing to return 20 vials of frozen semen from top Holstein show jumper Carthago.

The stallion is one of the top sires worldwide, having successfully taken part in numerous competitions on the international circuit, including two Olympic competitions in 1996 and 2000.

The case goes back to 1997, when the breeder bought Carthago's semen to inseminate two mares. The breeder claims that after the insemination, 20 vials of the very expensive genetic material remained, and he says the veterinarian never returned them. The veterinarian denies that any semen went missing.

Lawyers for the breeder and the veterinarian have not been able to settle the matter. The case is now to go before a judge on May 2 who will decide whether to order witnesses or rule on the case himself.

Tightly controlled industry

Laboratary: two hands in blue gloves filling a glass vial

Great demand for semen from top stallions

"Theoretically it is possible to steal semen from a breeding stallion, but it would be virtually impossible to use it," Horst Dieter Beyer, a breeder of thoroughbred racing horses in Cologne, told Deutsche Welle.

"All horses on the racing or show jumping circuit have registration papers. If one was to steal semen from a top horse like Carthago, the thieves could impregnate mares with it, but their foals could never be registered and would therefore be excluded from taking part in high-level competition."

Fees of 3,000 euros for a single vial of semen to impregnate one mare is a realistic price for owners of top stallions, according to prices listed on the website of the Holsteiner Verband, a horse breeding organization.

"It's big business," explained Beyer. "An average ejaculation provides enough semen to inseminate 40 mares. Still, without papers the thieves have their hands tied.

"They could theoretically buy a cheap stallion, use the semen from the quality stallion, swap the papers and pretend that the foals were from the cheap stallion," he said. "But sooner or later, the swap would be picked up in blood tests. I don't see how anyone could get away with it."

Author: Wilhelmina Lyffyt (dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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