Proper professional training is fundamental for horses who are going to play polo. Usually this preparation takes 2 years, with most horses beginning their training at 3 years of age. Any preparation before that is known as taming the horse rather than training them for polo.
Polo ponies need to lose their fear of bumping into other horses as well as running towards the ball and be comfortable with mallets swinging near their heads. Basic polo training in the field consists of engaging in a gradually non-stop galloping until reaching periods of about seven minutes. It also includes mark training, which is when the horse is asked to run in circles around the trainer, going progressively from bigger to smaller circles at various speeds. This helps them be agile and quick so as to be able to chase the ball and change movements frequently.
Most importantly, they need to feel comfortable around people, being ridden often by different people and knowing how to respond to the rider’s commands using his or her legs.
Only after the horse is done with this training, they will start to play polo at the age of 5 and will continue to do so until they retire from the sport at the age of 12. However, some horses can continue to play until they are 15, but that is not the usual case.
Finally, polo horses usually play 4 to 6 chukkas per match, of 7 and ½ minutes each. This means they need to maintain a good physical condition. Because the sport demands a significant physical effort of the horse, it custom for a single polo player to ride multiple different horses per match. This prevents the animal from getting too tired, being more prone to injuries and having a lower overall level of game. This means that even after a polo pony has completed its training, they still need to stay active to perform well when playing.
This is some of the training our horses have gone through to become polo ponies. The results are wonderful tamed horses with an incredible performance during play and the highest adaptability to any rider. Come meet them at our Polo Day!