Partnership: Spending meaningful time with your horse creates a bond that will achieve an even greater performance on the field.
‘Without good horses, you are nothing, in polo, it’s 70% horse, 30% rider. And I have the best horses.’ ~ Adolfo Cambiaso
The best polo ponies are responsive, even intuitive, and have a calm disposition that enables them to focus all of their energy on the game. ~ Polo Museum
Emotional Fitness: Curiosity and bravery usually stem from the horses’s personality type. Adolfo Cambiaso states that when he rides a new horse, he knows if it will make the grade or not.
Curiosity leads to confidence. Confidence creates braveness. From braveness its a short leap to calmness; finally from calmness comes performance. Old-style horse people claim that you need to keep the flight reaction within the horse to produce adrenaline or speed (depending on the discipline). If we applied this in human terms, how many budding of our budding international athletic and sporting stars would fall at the first hurdle if they failed to train or mentally prepare for a whole new environment and level of competition? There is only one word to describe that mentality – Poppycock!
“Never knock the curiosity out of a young horse.”
~ Tom Dorrance, pioneer horseman
Nutrition: There are still fallacies surrounding the practice of muzzling polo ponies in case they become “too fat”! But if you had a “super car” then its performance would be enhanced with octane-boosted fuel, rather than bog-standard unleaded. As an athlete, it would be laughable to expect Husain Bolt to tighten his belt on a high energy sport / training regime, so why do some people still think its acceptable to muzzle horses?
Energy & Performance: If a horse become too “fizzy” or too much for the owner to ride, often the horse has its food cut back. Rather than taking the route of Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs and starving the horse into submission, we should be taking a closer look at matching rider abilities to horses and alternative ways of ensuring the horse receives the correct ratio of exercise to the type of diet. I remember the story of my friend’s child who his under the tablecloth at a family birthday party and drank a whole bottle of Coco-Cola. It took a day to get him off the ceiling. Likewise, feeding pure oats before a game is going to give a short lived rush of energy that a less experienced player might find difficult to handle.
Handlers: A confident handler/groom/horseman who leads the horse through leadership and trust will make great polo ponies. A nervous groom will make nervous horses. A sullen groom will make terrible horses.