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the life of a polo pony?

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  • the life of a polo pony?

    is it a good life , bad life , or ?

  • #2
    It's like every other discipline in the horse world--there are good and bad caregivers out there. There are horses that love their jobs, and those that hate it. A good polo pony is an absolute blast to ride, though.
    I love my Econo-Nag!


    • #3


      • #4
        As with everything, it depends upon the owner. I sold one of my polo ponies to a guy in Texas and she is living on a place that looks like Southfork and she is spoiled to death. I worked for a guy in L.A. whose polo ponies lived and ate better than most people's show horses. But I've also seen the jerks.

        I'd want to see the guy's other horses before selling to a polo home. Just ask to watch a game so you can show up at the field and see how they look and how he rides.


        • #5
          I'm leery because of all the "equipment" they put on a horse's face and the awfully rough treatment during all games I've seen.


          • #6
            Originally posted by nightsong View Post
            I'm leery because of all the "equipment" they put on a horse's face and the awfully rough treatment during all games I've seen.
            Kinda like the horse show world, right?


            • #7
              The polo ponies I've seen live like KINGS and are treated that way.

              Not sure why protective gear would be considered a bad thing, though.

              Talented, tough, competitive animals that seem to live a pretty darn good life. Heck - they only work a few minutes at a time. Nice work if you can get it.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                Originally posted by nightsong View Post
                I'm leery because of all the "equipment" they put on a horse's face and the awfully rough treatment during all games I've seen.
                If you are referring to the gag bits typically worn in the polo world, that does the pony a lot of favors. All the player has to do in order to pull up their horse is slightly raise their hands and sit up in the saddle, meaning no pulling or tugging on the pony's mouth. They respond to neck rein ads, which means no ripping up the corners of their mouth on the turns. It's the appropriate tack for the job.

                As for "rough treatment", it's a contact sport by definition, and some people mistake that for "rough treatment". Some players/clubs do ride their horses particularly rough, and others ride with finesse and grace. We could say the same about any horse sport--I've seen people do things in the dressage arena with a snaffle bit that turn my stomach.
                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                • #9
                  Originally posted by nightsong View Post
                  I'm leery because of all the "equipment" they put on a horse's face and the awfully rough treatment during all games I've seen.
                  Do you mean the pulling and yanking?


                  • Original Poster

                    thanks for the insights and the link to the other similar thread.

                    so - what is the life of a polo pony like? what does the training involve?

                    how would i know if a barn was a good barn or not looking at the training/riding? (i am a dressage person so all that "gear" is foreign to me)

                    what kind of horse makes a good polo pony?


                    • #11
                      try this link


                      I think in dressage the ultimate is to be aware of your horses every movement, where each leg is at each moment. In polo, the perfect ride is to be so as one with your horse at speed that you are unaware of the horse underneath you.
                      Last edited by jubilee43; Jun. 29, 2009, 06:43 PM. Reason: additions


                      • #12
                        I worked at a polo barn for a couple of years and it was a blast. The horses were more of a part of the hobby, but they were fed well, rugged in the winter, and lived out on big beautiful pastures (they did come in at times). They were SO much fun to ride, we used to foxhunt them in the offseason, too.

                        I think their training depends on the level of polo they are playing. My farm just was recreational and they only played in the summer. In the spring, we'd start stick and balling them and galloping them. They'd play through the summer and in the fall we'd foxhunt. I think they were treated pretty well. Also, riding them in all that tack really isn't as bad as it looks.


                        • #13
                          I have a young TB who wasn't going to cut it as a polo pony and who we hope is going to be a good low-level dressage horse. He had most of the training, including stick and ball, but ultimately wasn't going to be aggressive or fast enough, even for low-goal polo. He's a calm, laid-back, gentle type.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by jubilee43 View Post
                            i was super excited to see this - but it is just a short snippet with no real content


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post
                              If you are referring to the gag bits typically worn in the polo world, that does the pony a lot of favors. All the player has to do in order to pull up their horse is slightly raise their hands and sit up in the saddle, meaning no pulling or tugging on the pony's mouth. They respond to neck rein ads, which means no ripping up the corners of their mouth on the turns. It's the appropriate tack for the job.
                              I often see people saying their horse goes "light as a feather" in xyz bit etc etc but what this really means is that the rider has to use less strength or exert the same, if not MORE pressure on the horse, since harsher bits usually involve leverage.

                              In the case of the gag, you get leverage as well as strong action on the lips (and elsewhere depending on the mouthpiece). The other common polo bit is a pelham - leverage and curb action.

                              Less work for the rider, same or harsher effect on the horse.
                              PSSM / EPSM and Shivers Forum


                              • #16
                                I played college polo (the best 2 years I've spent on a horse,honestly, such fun!) and can tell you that nothing a polo pony will do is harder than what an upper level dressage horse or hunter/jumper will do.

                                Training? We did lots of conditioning, up and down hills, trotting mostly. Those horses must be IN SHAPE--6 minutes of non-stop movement halt to gallop and back again in a game. Keeping a horse safe and healthy is the goal of most riders--too expensive to replace your horse, too much training involved. Only some horses have the mental and physical ability to play the game. Those that do are like upper level event horses--that "look of eagles" they talk about. Ponies will watch the game they are not currently in, they fret if they dont' get to play.

                                I suppose there are bad players/riders/owners like in every equine sport, but those who play fairly seriously most likely take it seriously and treat their horses well. It is an expensive sport: you need 6 horses to make a string to compete in field polo.
                                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by mbm View Post
                                  what kind of horse makes a good polo pony?
                                  Alot of the less in demand for showing type small short short-coupled OTTBs seem to be in demand as polo ponies. Plain bay and chestnuts, around the 15-15.2h range, short necks, good bone, competitive with enduring stamina, works well in close quarters, ready to change speed and direction as fast as any cutting horse with a shift of the rider. I always thought my own little TB mare would be a perfect polo pony, but you'd have to pry her away from me.


                                  • #18
                                    it takes a certain type of horse to enjoy their life when they are a polo pony.
                                    if you have a dearly beloved horse that someone wants to buy from you and make a polo pony... i personally wouldn't do it.... in fact i couldn't do that with a clear conscious
                                    chaque pas est fait ensemble


                                    • #19
                                      We have 17 polo horses and I'd say that in general (of course not always!) polo ponies are really well taken care of. They get worked HARD. We ride them 6 days a week and it's hard conditioning work, with two days of stick-and-ball and one day of play. They are FIT FIT FIT-- as in, after their day off they are raring to go and it's like sitting on a time bomb, lol. But they know their job and a good polo pony has better manners than ANY other type of horse I've ever ridden-- so you're sitting on a time bomb that's not going to do anything until you tell it to.

                                      Our polo ponies and most of those in our club get 24/7 turnout. Ours only come in during inclement weather (okay, but our three black ones come in during the noon hours to avoid sunburn ) And, knock on wood, they are the soundest of all horses I've ever known, maybe due to the six months of pure rest time they get in winter and the steady, proper fitness and conditioning they get during the season.

                                      A good polo pony is 15'1, with a low, straight neck (not cresty) and flat movement. They should flatten out and run with a minimum of knee action or suspension. They should have short backs and be handy on the bit, and fast. The best are mares.

                                      I second what another poster said-- the best feeling you can get on an amazing pony is to forget you have a horse underneath you--- your neurons fire and they move. It's unreal. All you think about is the ball and suddenly they are there, you see your teammate winding up for a backshot and suddenly you've turned around and are set up for the shot. They just KNOW.

                                      And as for the tack, a lot of people take issue with that and seem to think that it suggests the horses are rank or strong in the mouth, but it's not true. NO contact is the norm for a polo pony, and the bit is very, very rarely used on a good one with a good rider. Body motion is enough to stop and turn the horse, but when a sudden stop is needed out of nowhere (this can be a safety issue) you need the leverage. A raise of the hand produces enough leverage on a gag snaffle to stop a pony. The standing martingale is common, and a breastplate, so it looks like they're wearing even more stuff. Some use drawreins as well.

                                      A snaffle would be next to impossible to use in a polo game. It is simply not clear enough as a neck-reining bit. Plus, there is a big, big difference between getting a horse's attention to stop from even a strong canter in the jumper ring and a full out, head down, full-bore gallop.

                                      All that being said, polo ponies aren't always perfect. Mine was a doofus today. He was fresh as could be and keen on running the whole time, but not keen on the line-up and wanted to kick up.

                                      Edited to Add: And to Petstorejunkie, I'm sorry that you've probably met a few bad polo players-- they're definitely out there. But I promise that the majority of owners take really good care of their polo ponies and they live very naturally. In fact, I would sell my horse to a polo barn before a hunter barn if I had the choice. In some ways, I think polo is the most natural of equestrian pursuits for a horse-- galloping around with a whole bunch of other horses. That's not to say that every horse likes it-- some just are not suited, and that is fine!
                                      "Disapproval of the way other people run their businesses and treat their horses is the meat and drink of the hunter-jumper industry."
                                      Working Student Blog
                                      Current Blog


                                      • #20
                                        A good polo pony makes a darned fine jumper. Inside turns become the norm and not an option.
                                        You jump in the saddle,
                                        Hold onto the bridle!
                                        Jump in the line!