When Mary Walker, 60, was at her lowest, a horse named Latte was her saving grace. Latte was there as she grieved the loss of her only child, and together they dominated the barrel racing circuit. From spending quiet time in the barn to training at high speeds, the duo shared a powerful bond. That bond was so special, Mary made a monumental decision. She loved horses, but she didn’t want just any horse. She decided to clone her beloved Latte, and then she did it again.
Mary’s son was 21 years old when he died in a tragic car accident. It was the most difficult time in her life, and grief almost ripped her apart. No one could replace her son, but on Mother’s Day 2011, Mary’s husband gave her a special gift. That gift was Latte, and it turned into a lot more than either of them ever expected. Mary told Metro UK,
“Horses seem to take away a lot of sadness because they understand your feelings. Latte was always my go to when I had a sad time. I’d ride or just go talk to him. He meant a lot to me. He’s the coolest dude in the world.”
A born barrel racer, Mary didn’t waste any time entering her best friend into the competitive circuit.
Latte was a natural winner, but an accident almost ended their career. Latte fell in June 2011, and Mary suffered extensive injuries. She had a crushed pelvis, two broken vertebrae, a broken femur, and two broken toes. Latte, thankfully, was not injured. But Mary took months to heal enough to get back in the saddle.
Despite her accident, Mary didn’t lose her drive or determination. Latte became her motivation to get better and get back to competing. When they made it back to the circuit, they were unstoppable.
Mary worked hard and became the 2012 World Barrel Racing Champion. She took home $146,000 in prize money and, at that time, she was the oldest woman to win the world title. She couldn’t have done it without Latte.
With all her success, the decision to clone Latte was based on sentiment, not competition.
Latte was her best friend, and Mary decided to clone her horse in 2015. She and her husband reached out to ViaGen Pets. They provided two skin samples from Latte, and the tech company used their patented cloning process to create a horse that is genetically identical to Latte.
The cloned horse was born in April 2016 via surrogate. Mary named him Ditto and reports he’s an exact match to her beloved Latte.
Three years later, Mary decided to do it again. She loves Ditto as much as she loves Latte, and the third time around produced similar results. The second cloned horse is named Junior, and he’s the genetic match to both his cloned predecessor and the original Latte. The three horses look just about identical (a slight difference can be seen in their facial markings), but they have different personalities. Even with those slight differences, Mary is amazed at all their similarities.
Latte, Ditto, and Junior all live together in Mary’s barn. Mary’s dream is to have a stable full of at least 10 cloned horses, and she’s on her way to making that happen. She’s already arranged for two more cloned foals to enter the world in 2020. ViaGen usually charges customers $85,000 to clone a horse.
Featured image via Facebook/Mary Walker