Sometimes horses can lose their focus. When playing polo, a distracted horse has the power to ruin or complicate the game, causing you to lose. However, a horse with no focus is also a safety hazard since they can bolt and take their riders over the field fence or into other oncoming horses.
Here are 3 tips a rider and polo player can do to keep their horse focused:
Understand what is causing the distraction
Sometimes, a horse’s distraction can be tied to a fear or uneasiness caused by new and unknown environments or places. It is important to keep in mind that horses are a pray animal and, therefore, when a horse is in a situation where he is unable to find the feelings, comforts, and focus he would get with his herd-mates, he becomes overly perceptive of everything around him and goes into survival mode.
A horse’s distraction can also come out from curiosity or their desire to be with what they like and feel comfortable with. This can mean grass, their stable where they eat and rest and other horses they are friends with. Giving the horse time to be and do the things they like is a way to keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Addressing the distraction
If the distraction comes from a place of fear, it is important to know the horse and the things they dislike (such as high noises and objects moving erratically). The horse’s confidence around these things can be built through a slow introduction to them and a progressive increase of all the variables that make them scary, like distance and noise. Moreover, the rider and polo player should teach the horse to feel comfortable and safe when with them, even in unknown situations or around objects that may make the horse feel uneasy.
If the distraction comes from something the horse likes and wants, such as grass and other horses, the best solution is for the rider to be something the horse likes as well. Perhaps being more polite to the horse, giving the horse some treats and love more often can help achieve this.
Consistency in doing these practices (understanding the source of the distraction and addressing it properly) are the key to making any progress in your horse’s level of focus. This will make riding them during a polo match and anywhere a much more enjoyable experience for both of you.
Follow these tips to keep your polo horse’s focus!