Polo Players Edition

NOV 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.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1041752

Contents of this Issue


Page 14 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 13 For example, the No. 4 generally hangs back and when someone hits a big ball, he will run to it. But then he will usually check down and wait for his teammates to get in position before he hits it. So, a No. 4 might school his horses so he can keep them calm, cool and collected while work- ing on 40-yard sprints. In contrast, a No. 2 is in there fighting and mixing it up with everybody so if I was playing No. 2, I'd school my horses to work on getting from A to B quick, and back again. When I school my horses, I always have a target and a goal. I ride straight at the target and not let the horse stray. I ride with a lot of leg contact and when I get to the target, I'll back the horse up a few steps to get it on its hind quarters, then make a nice roll-back to the right or left. This allows the horse to get its hind end underneath itself, helping to build strong hind quarters, and use its hind end to piv- ot around. A fence can be used to direct a horse. You can use the fence instead of your hands to help stop the horse and teach it to turn left or right. You are still guiding the horse with your body but you don't have to use your hands as much. I like to keep the horse collected and listening to my legs and body. Some peo- ple just go out and hit the ball up and down the field. I like to hit off both sides of the horse, hit under the neck, swap leads, then maybe make some figure eights. And, I use my eyes. Someone once said your eyes are your third hand. Where your eyes go, your body follows and where your body goes the horse follows. Look where you are going and go. Most days, I ride in a snaffle bit and a western saddle. It is important to change up bits and even saddles to give the horse different pressure. When I am getting ready for a game during the season, more often than not, I'll ride in their polo bri- dles and saddle. Be careful not to overdo it with horses. That is something we all fight with and try to improve upon. Just like human ath- letes, it is about listening to their bodies. Sometimes, if you are hurting or sore, you don't need to go to the gym, and it is the same with horses. If you are constantly asking your horses for a movement, maybe stops and roll backs, constantly nagging them, the horses can become defensive. You don't want to keep picking at them. You also have to be mindful to settle for little tries, especially with younger horses. If you want the horse to stop and turn 180 degrees, first start with a 30-degree turn, then a nice 90-degree turn, then 125- degree before you get to 180-degrees. It is just a building block. If all you do is ask for 180-degree turns repeatedly, the horse will think he has to do that every time. So, when you want him to go 90 degrees, he won't know how to do that. Reward the horse for trying and putting in an effort. It is all about how you ask the horse to do things and the commu- nication between the horse and rider. Keep the horse willing to do things you are asking of it, almost like it is her idea. If a horse begins to become sour, do something else. Don't ever underestimate the power of a trail ride. There are a lot of horses in polo that aren't broke. They play polo, but that is all they can do. You see a lot of horses come out of places like Wyoming, where people have cattle farms. These horses work on the farms as well as play polo. It is important sometimes to take horses and do something different, just go ride or walk around. Too often we try to make then bigger, stronger, faster, quicker … A lot of times, mental exercise is just as good as physical exercise. There was a guy out in Oklahoma who would sit on his horses outside a pond and fish. The horse just had to stand there while he would fish, cast and reel in. You might look at that and say, what is that good for? If there is a penalty or some- body's got to run off the field and your NANO'S POLO MALLETS CUSTOM MADE MALLETS Professional and Prompt Mallet Repair Service Tipa Wood Heads Wide Selection of Canes We supply cane, grip heads for repair We have light mallets for women NEW MALLETS IN STOCK OPEN YEAR-AROUND We honor Visa/Mastercard/AMX 3500 Fairlane Farms Road Suite # Wellington, FL 33414 www.polomallets.com info@polomallets.com (800)903-NANO (6266) Tel: (561) 793-4911 Fax: (561) 793-4714 (continued on page 14)

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