Polo Players Edition

AUG 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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12 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N I N S T R U C T O R S F O R U M BY TOM GOODSPEED DOUBLE DUTY have been involved in discussions on the subject of double chukkering in the intercollegiate/interscholastic system the past couple of years. It is not an uncommon subject at any level in the arena or outdoors. I define double chukkering as a horse playing two full chukkers. There are many varied opinions. For those fortunate enough to have a string (6-9 horses outdoors and 3-5 for the arena), whether to double chukker does not vary from one horse to the next. Sometimes a string may be more of a strand when there are very real economic or soundness limitations. Things to consider when double chukkering are the horse's conditioning, its age, level of play, individual endurance tolerance and soundness, as well as field conditions, field size, player ability and a player's financial situation. Some believe a horse should never be double chukkered while others see no issue with double chukkering. There is no right or wrong answer, it is based entirely on the individual horse. Just like any sport, individual athletes have various levels of endurance. Some great basketball players can play almost an entire game, where as others may still be great but are more limited in the minutes they can play. Economics are always a real factor. If resources are unlimited, more horses is always better. If you are limited in time or funding, plenty of lower levels of competition allow for players to be able to participate with fewer ponies. In my early years of arena polo, I, and many others throughout history, pulled a two-horse trailer around to plenty of arena tournaments. I had a "strand" of ponies, which eventually grew to include a spare, then eventually more horses. When I first played outdoors, I had three ponies and was able to compete in lower- goal, four-chukker matches on the grass. My string eventually grew to four and then on up to five, six and more. After college polo, I managed large equestrian operations and played as much low-goal arena and outdoor polo I could. I won a record 17 arena national championships through my years at various levels, all with a strand of horses. I'm not making this statement to brag, but to show that you can still be successful with a limited string. I was very active in the arena community across the country, competing with and against dozens of wonderful players doing the same thing I was—double chukkering. I never had difficulty double chukkering horses in the arena, it was when I started playing a more competitive level outdoors that it became obvious more horses was better. My higher-goal arena experience also dictated an alteration in the standard practice of double chukkering. We came up with six five-minute chukkers so any horses that were double chukkered would be played a total of 10 minutes vs. 15 minutes with regulation chukkers. Arenas are a fraction of the size of an outdoor field so ponies don't have to run as much as they do outdoors. And it is easy to change ponies during a chukker outdoors, but it is simply not the case in an arena. Some will argue that all the stop and go in the arena is harder on horses but that is simply not true. I could play all through the arena winter seasons without any substantial leg care for the ponies, but a few weeks into the outdoor season it seemed to be non-stop leg care with hosing, icing, wrapping and poulticing. Intercollegiate and interscholastic has a wonderful equalizing system of split- string. The concept was developed by a famous veterinarian at Cornell University, 'Doc' Roberts. He came up with the idea of each horse playing one chukker for one team and one for the opposition during games between two Consider playing a horse two chukkers on a case-by-case basis The split-string system in I/I has each horse playing one chukker for one team and another chukker for the opposing team in a game. ELIZABETH HEDLEY

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