Jose Ignacio Domecq's Beautiful Challenge

In 1870, JosÉ Ignacio Domecq’s great-great-grandfather, Pedro Nolasco Gonzalez, the marquis of Terresoto, returned to Jerez, Spain, after 20 years abroad in the United Kingdom.

One of Jose Ignacio Domecq's polo scupltures

He immediately founded the Jerez Polo Club, teaching both horsemen and novices the game of polo that he’d been playing during his two decades away.

Over 150 years later, Domecq is part of a familial legacy of polo players in Spain at the family estate in Gredos, west of Madrid. “I was born in a stable,” he joked. His father was a four-goal player; his grandfather a five-goal player. Today in Gredos, the family’s polo ponies live in a pasture called Majadas. It is a sandy area, where the land allows the horses to remain shoeless when out of the polo season. Large centennial oaks shelter both horses and humans from the summer sun and winter rains. The acorns that fall from the oak trees from October to January are a particular favorite treat of the horses at Majadas.


Domecq starts his day with any one or more of his polo-playing children: Bosco, 7, Jaime, 11, Camila, 13, Yago, 16, or José, 17, gathered at the stable to feed the horses and select their favorites for a ride and training around the rustic polo field. At midday, they take an asado lunch and then Domecq repeats the morning training with Yago, who helps him in the afternoons.

“I have always said I’m a better groom then a polo player. My kids are the polo players and I’m a happy polo-day,” he said. As the sun sets over Gredos and the rest of the family retires for the evening, Domecq’s passion for sculpting his beloved horses comes to life and he heads to his studio to work with clay. He’s a self-taught sculptor who is creating the most marvelous interpretations of both equestrian power and peace.

“With the onset of the pandemic, we left Madrid and have stayed almost exclusively in Gredos,” he said. His power sculptures demonstrate the movement of the playing, active polo pony; while his peaceful sculptures show ponies relaxed, enjoying quiet moments. “Working with clay is very special,” Domecq said. “I focus on an image from my memory and with my wet hands, wire and the smooth clay, I start recreating the speed and beauty of the sport within a sculpture. It is a beautiful challenge.”

He works on two or three difference sculptures simultaneously. “Clay needs time to dry well to allow the final touch with the Dremel. This allows me to get to work on a different piece,” Domecq said. “There is nothing better than working with a Dremel to carve shapes into clay.”

Josh Jakobitz Editor-in-Chief Polo Lifestyles 2021