Aug 182017

By Patty Wilber

I went to a polo game while in Hawaii!  I had never been to a polo game.

It turns out all sorts of people, not just the horsey type, will come tailgate and hang out at a polo match!   At $12 per head.  Businesses also sponsor tables.  Too bad we couldn’t harness such interest for cow horse events.  Maybe if we have tents with tables, serve champagne and…add a tropical beach!

Polo has four players per team and each has a position, but if you are new to polo, it is not super obvious what the positions do.  The object of the game is to hit a ball through the goal.  If that occurs, the game restarts at the center and the teams switch which goal they are attacking.

My best picture of the horses was during the introductory gallop and not the game. The legs are wrapped with, yes, “polo wraps.” This term is used by many horse people to describe leg wraps. Fleece is a common material, but I do not know what material the polo horses were using.

There is out of bounds, and one of the balls came quite near us and Rick caught it.  The riders all came rushing over yelling, “Don’t throw it! Don’t throw it!” because the horses will chase the ball!  The officials carry extra balls and one came to restart the game.

The officials also carry a claw so they can get balls without dismounting.

See the ball claw?

The fact that the horses learn to chase the ball made me wonder if cow-bred horses that like to track things would be good at polo.  The polo horses were quite a bit bigger than the average cow pony, though. The polo mounts showed speed and bravery in a crowd when trying for the ball, which a cow horse might also be good at.

One of the rules of polo is that when a ball is struck, no one can cross the line of the ball in such a way as to impeded forward progress of the rider in pursuit of the ball.  Since polo has been around for maybe 2000 years, that made me think that the term  “crossing the line”, might have originated with polo, but found no evidence to support my brilliant hypothesis.

One of the traditions of polo is that at halftime spectators go out on the field and “stomp the divots” created by the running horses.  This helps keep the grounds in good shape and is kind of fun!

Divot, to be stomped.

These people do not have a walking disorder. They are stomping the divots!

In addition to the pedal (you know like manual, but with feet) repair, there was also the polo version of a Zamboni that rolled the middle of the field to help flatten things out.

After the game we had a quick jaunt to the beach at the polo field, with Leilani.  When she gets a little bigger, you know, two or so, she can come to Grama Patty’s Ranch Camp, to balance out all her salt water adventures! And hey, she did experience an equestrian event within the first two weeks of life!

Rick, Leilani and Maegan!

  • EMoonTX

    Two good books (fiction) that clarified some things about polo before I ever saw a game: Kipling’s _The Maltese Cat_ (name of a horse, polo from the horses’ POV.) Dorothy Lyon’s _Red Embers_ (from the owner/rider’s POV, also name of the horse in the book.) Both easy and fun to read. Then in college I saw a little polo…lots of fun to watch and I’m sure it’s more fun to do. Historical note: in the old days, there was a height limit on polo ponies. QH’s explosive speed and maneuverability would be good, but you’d have to watch out for bloodlines w/tendency to overheat or lack endurance for sustained max effort (remember the HYPP mess.) There’s no time to rest in a chukker. Gotta have absolute soundness in the entire leg, from hoof to hip, to take the stresses, and good heat-dispersion as well. Some QHs under-built because of past fondness for big butts and small feet. (Some TB’s underbuilt bc of concentration of speed alone, and don’t get me started on some other domestic breeds and crosses with inadequate joints.) (And then you can laugh at me for owning a heavy-TB crossed QH with good hocks and knees but bad thin-walled/soled, too narrow TB-ish hooves.)

  • Patty

    I very likely read Red Embers as I think I read every Dorothy Lyons book ever written, but Dark Sunshine was the one that stuck with me. I think I will have to read The Maltese Cat! There is most likely a reason cow horses are not making it big in polo so far as I know (which is not very far.) I do know of a 14.2 cutting bred horse that turned out to be a bang up 3 day eventing horse though. At least for your horse your have various things you can to help feet, where as joints, not so much!