The fine art of polo: Striking images reveal pony clones

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Sage and her clone ShowMe, both successful polo pony mares, photographed by Ramon Casares.
Sage and her clone ShowMe, both successful polo pony mares, photographed by Ramon Casares.

A passion for animals and wildlife has spurred Argentinian photographer Ramon Casares to create two distinctly different projects, one illustrating the essence of the polo pony, and the other showcasing rehabilitated wildlife.

With his distinctive use of light, shadow, and an intuitive feel for his animal subjects developed from his time as a zookeeper, Casares’s images of polo ponies illuminate the equine athletes of the sport of kings in a spectacular and emotive fashion. But his images of the ponies spotlight not only the essence of his subjects, but also milestones in the sport’s history and modern development that deliver another dimension of importance and intrigue to his work.

His works for the polo community have been featured as life-sized prints for private commissions, magazine covers, and hang in galleries around the world. With tens or even hundreds of horses per team, Casares has had no shortage of impressive specimens to choose from, but a few of the horses are true icons in the sport.

Polo pony fine art photography by Ramon-Casares.
© Casares Fine Art Photography

The famous mare Sage, and her clone, ShowMe, both owned by Charlie Armstrong, appear as carbon copies in both appearance and prestige, with both mares sporting highly decorated careers marked by defining moments in polo history. Sage is one of the greatest American mares of the 1990s and is the foundation mare of one of the world’s top polo lineages. Her athleticism and exceptional genes prompted the birth of ShowMe, Sage’s identical twin and the first clone to ever play in the Argentinean Polo Triple Crown in 2013. Making history with this performance, ShowMe’s significance in the modern development of polo and horse breeding cannot be overstated.

Dolfina Cuartetera is another famous Argentinian-bred horse to grace Casares’ portfolio, as is her clone, Cuartetera 09. Owned by La Dolphina and bred and ridden by Adolfo Cambiaso, Dolfina Cuartetera was honored with the Lady Susan Townley Cup in 2009 and 2010 as well as being historically awarded the Best Argentine Polo Horse in 2006 and 2009 by the Association Argentina de Criodores de Caballos de Polo.

Cuartetera 09, clone of Dolfina Cuartetera, photographed by Ramon Casares.
Cuartetera 09, clone of Dolfina Cuartetera, photographed by Ramon Casares.

Despite his talent with a camera, Casares views himself not as much as a photographer as an artist. “My goal in every shoot is to create a timeless portrait that captures the horse’s true essence with a touch of renaissance aesthetic to the images,” he said. “To me, its not just perfecting the horse under studio lighting, but instead to take my time to create one piece of art that the owner of the horse will love forever. I usually take hundreds of photos in one shoot, but don’t keep more than a few photos that I really think will transcend.”

With a childhood in Argentina surrounded by horses, Casares’ passion no doubt stems from this upbringing as well as his love for wildlife and animals. “I put my heart and soul into each photo shoot. I think polo horses, sport horses, and horses in general are the most powerful and aesthetically impressive domestic animal. They are superbly majestic but also humble in their beauty.”

Polo pony fine art photography by Ramon-Casares.
© Casares Fine Art Photography

From jaguars to pigeons and possums to dressage horses, Casares has trained his camera lens on animals from just about every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom. His work has appeared across the globe, garnering international acclaim and capturing the imagination of audiences at major media outlets and international art shows. Casares’ studio portrait-style images of nature’s rarest and most common species are devoid of background distractions and illuminated to detail each whisker, feather, or scale.

As a former keeper for the Buenos Aires Zoo, Casares was witness to the beauty, ferocity, and fragility of the animal kingdom firsthand. During the evolution of his photographic career, he began to visit wildlife rescues to document the plight of their patients. Realizing his images could generate support and awareness for those injured and recuperating commonplace species, as well as those who are in danger of extinction, Casares embarked on a mission to unite his talent for photography with his passion for conservation.

An image from Broken, by photographer Ramon Casares.
An image from Broken, by photographer Ramon Casares.

Broken was the result. Combining Casares’ distinctive artistic style and the plight of rescued animals, It is the final product of three years’ worth of photography, the resilience of each animal, and the selfless efforts of their rescuers. In the oversized fine art book, the saga of each animal is told beside their stunning and emotionally evocative images with the goal of bringing awareness to their struggle and eventual success. An ever-growing project, Casares intends to expand Broken to multiple countries and continents to maximize awareness and resources for endangered wildlife.

Casares Fine Art Photography

Polo pony fine art photography by Ramon-Casares.
© Casares Fine Art Photography
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