Meet your Match: The frontier of cloning polo ponies
A perfect polo pony whose success on the polo field was abruptly cut short, Cuartetera’s legacy lives on. And on. And on. And on. Fourteen near-identical clones of Cuartetera are the result of years of attempting to replicate the champion pony. While the cloned ponies different slightly physically, Adolfo Cambiaso, who knew Cuartetera the best, says the ponies all share her disposition and natural inclination for the game of polo.
During the Argentine Open, Cambiaso and the other La Dolfina team members mounted cloned ponies to face Valiente in the final match. It was a historical moment for a centuries’ old sport. Cambiaso recounted to 60 Minutes that he put great consideration into the selection of which of Cuartetera’s clones he would mount for the final chukker. Would it be #9? #5? #6? The cloned ponies don’t have individual names; to Cambiaso they are all Cuartetera, numbered 1 through 14.
While not as controversial as genetically modified ponies, cloned ponies present an interesting ethical dilemma to breeders. Stallions are not necessary to create the cloned ponies, as the embryos are created in a lab and then transferred to the mares who will carry them during gestation. Cloned embryos have a slightly higher risk of mortality than their counterparts.
Neither the international governing bodies of polo, equestrian sports, nor even the Olympics have taken a stance against the use of cloned ponies in competition, leaving the decisions up to the breeders, patrons, and players. Cambiaso, for one, would prefer to play on Cuartetera for the rest of his polo career.