By Eric Weil
Argentine Adolfo Cambiaso, regarded as one of the world’s leading polo players, has cloned about a 100 of his best horses in an attempt to have one of the best stables of polo horses. He hopes that some of them might be competing in matches soon.
Cambiaso began cloning as long ago as 2007 after he had to put down his star horse, Aiken Cura. He went into partnership with Alan Meeker, a Texan oil tycoon who had the cloning technology. The method to create a clone, is to take an egg from a live mare and replace the nucleus with that of a pony that they want to clone. The cell wall of the new egg is then fused and stimulated to start the development of the embryo. This is incubated for ten days and then implanted into a surrogate mare.
Meeker had cloned one of Cambiaso’s horses, a nervous animal, three times and when Cambiaso came to see them the three animals acted in the same way – they pinned their ears back and lunged at him which was exactly what the original horse was in the habit of doing. Cambiaso saw that not only were they identical, but that personality was transferred also. But this is not general, not all clones will act the same and their success finally depends a lot on the way they are trained. He pointed out that these are real animals with feelings and character traits.
The extent of cloning suggests that in a competition an entire team could soon be riding clones coming from the same animal – which might be a champion creating a team of champion horses. The equestrian world is however split about the benefits and ethics of cloning, but there is nothing in the rules to ban the practice.