Re-training polo horses - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 11-02-2013, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re-training polo horses

I was wondering if anyone had any experience training/retraining polo ponies. We have had a few at our barn over the years, and they all seem to have the same problems.

Namely:
-Unability to keep their head anywhere other than in the sky
-Cantering on the wrong lead
-General one-sidedness

I've been told that they mostly turn/canter in one direction for polo, because of which hand they hold the mallet in. In addition, they always seem to use standing martingales, though I don't know why they don't just teach their horses to go with lower heads... Obviously, they never have any muscle in their backs by the time they retire and come to our barn.

We do mostly general english and dressage, so obviously we need to re-train, but these have turned out to be some of my favorite horses!

Does anyone play polo? Train polo horses? Re-train polo horses? Have any comments? Very curious!
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post #2 of 6 Old 11-03-2013, 09:33 AM
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I groom for, exercise, and play. We don't want their heads in the air for a couple reasons. I've only rode one that came with that habit. While it is optimal to make a hit while the horse is on the right lead, life really happens according to plan and polo ones have to be able to change leads to maneuver through the game safely and effectively.

Honestly, you seem to be getting rejects. Whether their ineptitude is conformational, cognitive, or a matter of trainer or rider error.. I can't say.

I'm glad they are finding some purpose in your barn.
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post #3 of 6 Old 11-03-2013, 11:49 AM
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I used to re-school OTTBs for both over fence horses and for polo prospects. That usually meant that I tried the bigger and taller ones over fences, the big, 'pretty movers' for Dressage and the smaller, more quick footed' ones for polo. The early training was the same -- getting them very broke and 'giving' to the bit instead of charging into it.

I met many polo players in the process. I equated them with ropers and barrel racers. Some schooled their horses very well and only pushed them for what they were ready for. They did a lot of slow work and laid a very good foundation -- just like good ropers and good barrel racers. Then, there were those that just charged out there and tried to chase balls and swing mallets off any horse they could get to the polo field. It was just like the barrel racers and ropers that take green horse, slap on a tie-down and go try to run barrels or rope cattle. Their horses are braced on tie-downs or standing martingales, are 'stiff' and 'bug-eyed', charging out of control or almost out of control and with no 'rate' or collection in their entire play-book.

Just like 'blown up' arena horses, they are pretty useless on the polo field and end up sold cheap as 'flunk-outs'. You just have to go back to square one and put the foundation on them that they never got to start with. I would guess that those are what you are getting. The well-trained ones that were taught right are worth a whole lot of money and are in some good player's string and not in your barn.
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post #4 of 6 Old 11-03-2013, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, I'm certainly getting the rejects. I have no doubts about that. The last one we got was all skin and bones. She had been left I'm a field after an injury and was pretty much ingnored for a year. I have no doubt that there are great horses owned by amazing players, but realistically most are not those horses or those players...

The thing is, I've never seen a polo horse ridden well, with maybe one exception of one guy. They always seem to ride with their heads in the air and with harsh bits. I don't know if this is a local thing though, our if this is really how it's done in polo...

It's not like these horses don't have their basics down though. They are really easy rides, even for a beginner. They just have these quirks (wrong lead canter, head up, etc).
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post #5 of 6 Old 11-03-2013, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Also, I've been told that most of the local players are kinda being pushed out by they foreigners that come only for the season.

They apparently use local horses, whose training they care little for, then go back to their own countries and professional careers.
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post #6 of 6 Old 11-03-2013, 07:35 PM
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You need to meet a better class of horsemen.
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