Sapo Caset’s stallion, Dolfina Popular, is keeping strange company these days at his winter home in Wellington. Three weeks ago the son of Cuartetera got a new girlfriend, and they’re already living together. But she’s not really his type.
She’s not even a mare. “Perla” is a sheep.
No, this isn’t some weird genetic experiment. Caset is not going to crossbreed his prized stud with a different species, nor is he going to train Perla for polo. But who knows, she may pick it up on her own if she remains smitten and keeps following Popular everywhere he goes. (A stalker sheep?)
Actually, Perla is just doing her job: herding livestock. That was fine with Popular. He even seems to like the company. Just as any unmarried polo player on the road, Popular gets bored and lonely sometimes, says Caset. Unlike the mares, which live in the same row of stalls and can be turned out together, Popular has to be segregated.
A few weeks ago the solitude started to get to him. One day Caset walked by his stall and noticed him shaking his head and tossing his neck around—unusual behavior for a horse that is, like its owner, by nature a very chill dude.
But what to do about it? There weren’t any obvious options. Between turnout and practices, the horse was getting plenty of exercise. Clearly, he just wasn’t happy living alone. Popular is a breeding stallion between polo seasons, so Caset couldn’t move him to an aisle with the mares.
One morning in the mate circle an epiphany arose. “Let’s get him a sheep!” said one of the crew. Everyone looked at each other. A what?! Caset shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, why not?” he said. “They do it with Thoroughbreds. Let’s try it.”
Since sheep are not exactly in good supply in horse-centric Wellington, it took some research to find one. It turned out there were several available in Loxahatchee, a neighboring rural community. Caset gave the guys some money. They went out and came back with Perla.
Perla lived on a horse farm, so she knew how to behave around horses. Popular, however, had never laid eyes on a sheep. For safety they were slowly introduced. Perla spent a week living in the adjacent stall to Popular so they could get used to each other’s vibe, and then they were allowed to sniff each other live (with Popular wearing a muzzle, as he still does).
After a while Perla was led into Popular’s stall, and the two have been an item ever since. They are even exercised together, the sheep getting a kick out of tagging along with the stallion iwhile he's being longed. Caset got such a kick out of it that he made a video. When Popular has had enough of that routine, Perla follows him back to the barn, looking like a foal trailing its mom.
Will Perla come along when Caset takes his string back to Argentina in a few months? “I don’t know,” he says. “We haven’t separated them yet, so we don’t know how attached they are. We will do whatever is best for Popular. If he wants a sheep, he can have one.”