Doesn’t that Horse Look Familiar?
Adolfo Cambiaso is widely considered to be the best polo player in the world. But like every equestrian he needs the right horses to ride in order to succeed. It is normal for polo players to change horses several times during a match and so one good horse isn’t enough. But how do you ensure that you have enough horses of the right calibre?
Six Horses for One Player
At a prestigious match in Buenes Aires recently, Cambioso rode six different horses. They all performed very well which doesn’t seem particularly remarkable. Cambiaso knows what he is doing and can pick the right horses. However, these weren’t really six different horses because they were all clones of a single mare. The horses are unimaginatively named Cuartetera 01 through 06!
Leading the Way
Cambiaso was the first leading polo player to embrace the concept of cloning and has been riding cloned horses competitively since 2013. Whilst clones are not permissible in horse racing they are allowed to compete in the game of polo. Cambiaso is now involved with Crestview Genetics. A Texas based organisation which breeds cloned horses specifically for polo matches. Crestview was founded by Alan Meeker, a polo player who made his fortune from oil and gas.
Crestview was originally faced with a great deal of scepticism and many people, including some scientists, felt that they couldn’t succeed. The sceptics believed that the cloned horses would not perform as well as the original mares and that environmental factors would influence their genes resulting in horses which were quite different from the originals. Cambiaso’s rather public success with the cloned horses has proved that cloning can work.
A Sideways Move?
Some scientists feel that cloning is a sideways move and that better horses can only be the result of breeding great mares with classy stallions. Cloning cannot improve the bloodline but does have its advantages for the rider. If polo players have horses from the same genetic background and train them in the same ways, they do not have to adjust their riding technique for each animal.
The Smallest Details
Alan Meeker tries to ensure that every clone is treated identically to the original horse in order to produce horses that are as close to the original as possible. He even ensures that the clones have the same rugs in the same colours that the original horse knew. Now that is exceptional attention to detail!
Breeding and Cloning
Crestview is partnering cloning with more traditional breeding to create the best of both worlds. The team are breeding cloned mares with stallions to improve the genetic line. The science of cloning has improved immeasurably since the early days when the failure rate was high and there were many premature deaths. The world of breeding is changing rapidly. One wonders if cloned horses will soon be a feature of other equestrian disciplines.