Argentine polo turns to genetics to supply champions

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Argentine polo turns to genetics to produce champions
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AFP / JUAN MABROMATA
Scientists need to map all the genome of the Argentine polo horse with a view to create the proper specimen

Are champions born, or raised? That is the query scientists in Argentina are attempting to reply as they appear to pinpoint the genes that make native horses one of the best on the earth for enjoying polo.

In Argentina, polo is a giant deal, and massive enterprise, and to that finish, cloning has already been used to breed the best current mounts.

However scientists need to go one step additional and map all the genome of the Argentine polo horse with a view to create the proper specimen.

From December, a bunch of 5 universities will analyze 80,000 horses from the breed as a part of a venture that can attempt to establish the best genetic steadiness that makes up a polo horse.

The Argentine horses used to play polo have been bred particularly over many years by crossing a Criollo line descended from the unique pure-blooded Andalusian and Arab mounts delivered to the New World by Spanish conquistadores, and English thoroughbreds, launched on the finish of the 19th century when British immigrants additionally imported polo.

For veterinarian Guillermo Buchanan, the Argentine polos “are distinctive” due to their pace and sturdiness, and due to their mixture of explosiveness and docility.

Throughout a polo match these horses, also called polo ponies because of their agility, “change path at pace, decelerate, flip, speed up whereas turning,” says admiring horse-breeder Pablo Trigo, who can also be co-managing the venture.

AFP / EITAN ABRAMOVICH
Researchers on the Genetics Veterinary Institute (IGEVET) at Argentina’s La Plata College carry out assessments as a part of a venture to search out the best genetic make-up for a polo horse

The Argentine polos distinguish themselves of their fee of studying and sensibility to their rider’s needs. They’re essentially the most cloned animal on the earth.

At stud farms within the Buenos Aires space they’re taken care of as if artworks. And now science is getting used to determine learn how to reproduce the best animals.

The venture is anticipated to start out producing outcomes inside three years and can precede the launch of a genetic choice program aimed toward optimizing the horses’ bodily and temperamental traits.

– ‘Leading edge’ analysis –

There’s nothing new about utilizing utilized analysis and biotechnology to enhance polo ponies however curiosity within the science is rising, as is the cash individuals are ready to pay for its outcomes.

AFP / JUAN MABROMATA
Argentinian polo horse coach Ezequiel Correa (C) stated, “If you happen to expose a horse to polo earlier than it is prepared, you traumatize it and it is tough to return again from that”

The clone of a legendary mare fetched a whopping $800,000 at public sale.

Based on estimates, there are round 200 cloned Argentine polos, many copies of elite degree mounts.

Up to now, all appear to be in glorious well being.

Argentina “is totally on the cutting-edge of utilized analysis into polo ponies,” stated geneticist Sebastian Demyda, one of many venture’s leaders.

This contains each biotechnological approach from embryonic switch to cloning and gender choice: mares are most well-liked due to their extra docile temperament.

Argentina’s polo affiliation accepts cloning — though not everybody considers this moral, and one personal clinic specializing in embryo manipulation has ceased its actions.

“(Genetic) engineering is the restrict,” stated Buchanan, who believes tampering with particular person embryos is a step too far.

AFP / JUAN MABROMATA
It may take as much as seven years to coach a polo pony, comparable to these ones seen in Pilar, Argentina in October 2018

Cloning nonetheless has grow to be frequent apply in polo — and whereas clones had been initially used just for reproductive functions, now they’re utilized in competitors too.

Elite gamers can have as much as six or seven clones of their pens.”The clones are doing very effectively, they’re successful prizes,” stated Demyda.

However cloning has its drawbacks, not least in terms of the gene pool.

“Clones slender the race’s genetic construction, they’re like a photocopy,” stated Demyda.

On the subject of the game, in addition they distort the taking part in area. Cloning prices a minimal of $30,000 which means solely the richest can profit.

“Cloning is not accessible to everybody, it’s extremely costly and provides sure breeders a bonus.”

– ‘Particular connection’ wanted –

Whereas science will help favor sure bodily and even temperamental traits at start, coaching maintains a vital and nearly legendary function within the improvement of polo horses.

AFP / EITAN ABRAMOVICH
There’s nothing new about utilizing utilized analysis and biotechnology to enhance polo ponies however curiosity within the science is rising, as is the cash individuals are ready to pay for its outcomes

It may take seven years to coach a polo pony because it must be programmed into performing towards its pure instincts.

Specialist Ezequiel Correa says “what’s elementary is that it has been effectively tamed,” though with out utilizing violence.

A horse must get used to the swinging wood mallet brushing its sides, and the sound when it connects with the metallic ball.

It is a painstaking artwork type that requires small steps of simply 20 minutes coaching a day.

“It is like educating a baby to learn one letter at a time. If you happen to make it learn in entrance of the category, you traumatize it,” stated Correa, who at 33 has skilled 20 horses.

AFP / EITAN ABRAMOVICH
A researcher at Argentina’s La Plata College performs a check on a polo horse to study its genetic make-up

“If you happen to expose a horse to polo earlier than it is prepared, you traumatize it and it is tough to return again from that.”

As soon as that is been achieved, although, the following step is to determine “chemistry” between horse and rider.

“You want a particular connection, there is a distinctive type of communication utilizing the legs. If it really works, you possibly can have a champion.”

Science, it appears, can not overcome each problem.

“No-one can establish the brand new (Lionel) Messi by genes,” stated Demyda.



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