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Polo Ponies - How are they treated?

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  • Polo Ponies - How are they treated?

    I have a gentleman interested in a horse I have for sale. I've seen his barn, it's immaculate, horses are all in excellent flesh and supremely cared for, he and all the staff that handle the horses are quiet and seem to really care about the horses. My question is this - what is the life of a polo pony generally like? How are they usually treated etc. I know nothing about the polo world and want to make sure this horse goes to a great home. Enlighten me - the good, the bad etc.
    True North Dressage
    Select Cheval Canadiens for dressage and eventing

  • #2
    Polo Ponies like any horse sport have their range. Some polo players treat their horses like gold, and only the best care and training is provided. Some players not so good and the care is sub-standard and they get ridden into the ground without proper conditioning. With your explanation of the barn and staff I think he is the first rather then the second type.


    • #3
      Ours have all day turn out, very well fed, have a highly managed exercise schedule. Yes they are highly managed, but they all are very happy. Handled with the highest respect.


      • #4
        I agree with mjrtango93: you will find the same range of care in polo that you'll find in any sport. My dad played polo; his horses were kept out 24/7 except for when the rain was too bad, they had regular farrier/vet/dental care, were well fed, etc. His last polo horse was put to sleep a few weeks ago. She was in her late 30's(we have her papers to confirm this) so I'd say our family treated my dad's polo ponies darn well. Based on your description of the place, sounds like his horses are well taken care of.
        ***Honorary Member of the "What is BOSS?" Cult...er...CLIQUE***
        ***Prominent Member of the 'Irrelevent Posters Clique'***
        CrayolaPosse ~ Bluegreen


        • #5
          Wait, didn't we just have this thread? Oh, wait, no, that was about the Amish.

          OP, if you've seen the barn and the horses are happy and healthy, what more is there to ask? Polo is just a sport like any other. Although I do have to say, my experiences with polo players have all been very good, their horses have been very well cared for.
          exploring the relationship between horse and human


          • #6
            I'd say it's a mix, more or less the same as any other sport. I do think that since many polo players are not from a horse background, and there tend to be larger numbers of horses involved, that the care is often not what you might expect. I do NOT mean that it's bad by any means, but treats and hugging are much less common, that kind of thing. If it's important to you that your horse have "his person" a polo home might not be right.

            Oh the other hand, all of the polo ponies I have met really loved what they were doing, which impressed me. I rarely got the feeling they were doing something because they had to, but because they wanted to. And outside of playing, they pretty much get to be horses.

            Since it sounds like your horse doesn't already play, you might want to ask what the guy does with horses that aren't successful at polo, just so you know.

            I think if I were a horse, polo pony would be high on my list of preferred careers


            • #7
              PBS did a horse special that focused on different disciplines, and polo was one of them. I'd like to be a polo pony in the barn they showed. The main "training" was getting up in the morning and galloping down a fence line at top speed for about 20 minutes, then turn out for the rest of the day!
              I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


              • #8
                the finest polo story ever written

                The Maltese Cat by Rudyard Kipling

                A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


                • #9
                  I had no idea the Maltese Cat was about polo - would have read it if I had.

                  Rikki Tikki Tavi was my favourite story as a kid, about the mongoose who killed the King Cobra. I would always check under my bed before going to sleep to make sure there were no snakes there.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • #10
                    If you are wanting your horse to go to a home where it will be treated like a pet, a polo home of any calibre will have great difficulty providing that. The range in quality care is much like the racing industry; some are fab wow, and others make you want to cry. they are athletes and treated like such, so if this horse is one that thrives on stud muffins and cowboy magic baths, it's not the best choice for him.
                    chaque pas est fait ensemble


                    • #11
                      My dad played polo - from what I saw it was largely a lot of big men thundering around on fast horses with lots of strong tack, drawreins, gags, martingales and their mouths wide open. Not every polo player has a high handicap.
                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by halla View Post

                        Since it sounds like your horse doesn't already play, you might want to ask what the guy does with horses that aren't successful at polo, just so you know.
                        Good advice, I was curious about that as well. Someone offered to buy my horse for polo, but she is not and never will be for sale. It seems like the good ones have a cushy life, but what about the ones who aren't a good fit?
                        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                        • #13
                          Some of the horses that don't play well outside go to the colleges that have polo strings. They often make wonderful arena polo horses. If a horse truly doesn't like the game, they usually have a huge amount of training and handling by then and make nice riding horses for many people. There are threads from people with them on here. Most of the players i know make quite an effort to find a good home for their pony and we all play lower level.


                          • #14
                            I think that maybe your question should have been what should I look for to place my horse where it will be happy and well cared for?

                            That it is going to a polo barn or if you were giving your horse to a rescue, there can be good and bad in any of those, or any other we do with horses.

                            What you need to do is to "vet" whoever has interest in your horse, as it is the owner/barn it will go to that needs to fit, not if that is a polo barn or other kind of barn.

                            I understand that you want to know more about what polo itself is, what your horse will be asked to do, how polo barns manage their horses.
                            That is a different question than "how are polo ponies treated".


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jubilee43 View Post
                              If a horse truly doesn't like the game, they usually have a huge amount of training and handling by then and make nice riding horses for many people. There are threads from people with them on here. Most of the players i know make quite an effort to find a good home for their pony and we all play lower level.
                              I got my TB gelding from a lower-level player who has his own barn. After flunking out at race training, he went to a high-level player and then ended up with his previous owner via the Aiken polo pony sale. He is one of those horses who aspires and really tries very hard to be the family pet, and I don't think the polo barn could resist him anymore than I could. He was sold on to me because he is too slow for polo, but he did get a lot of training and exposure in the process.


                              • #16
                                When ours flunk out of polo they usually become eventers. They have bold and brave personalities. Its never been hard to place a polo "reject" in a wonderful family home.