One of the rodeos most famous calf roping horses will live on for a long time to come. Topofthemarket, or “Topper”, was known as the best rodeo calf roping horse of the past quarter century. Some have said that may have been the best ever. Topper was born in 1982 in Henrietta, Texas and lived to be 25 years old. He passed away in great health during a freak accident when he opened his own gate and was hit on the highway by a truck.

Now Topper will live on through his clone. The procedure took place at Viagen Pets in Cedar Park, Texas, who has been cloning animals since 2002.

"The common bond between all of our clients that are cloning their pets, or horse even, is this unique relationship that they have had with that animal and if you have never had that relationship with a dog or a cat or a horse then you may not understand why you would do this," Viagen Client Service Manager Melain Rodriguez said. "I know me myself, I have had lots of animals over the years and there is always that one."

Rodriguez said that for a client, it is a very easy process.

"It is a very simple biopsy procedure that any veterinarian can do and then those tissue samples will come back to our lab and we will grow and culture millions of cells from these tissues and each of these cells contains the complete DNA for that animal," Rodriguez said.

Cells are frozen from the animal and are stored for later use years later.

 

"Those cells were preserved years ago when that animal died and so this is an example of an animal that essentially sort of comes back in a new form," said Rodriguez. "The same DNA from Topper is in this newborn foal. Now, he is going to have to have the same training that the original Topper did but a lot of that performance and drive is genetically linked."

Viagen Pets says that cloning can vary depending on the species. To preserve the cells, which is the first step, costs $1,600 and is $150 per month to store the cells. Cloning for a horse is $85,000, a dog is $50,000, and a cat is $35,000.