Like top athletes in other disciplines, U.S. Polo Team Captain Nic Roldan made his mark on the game at an early age—15, to be exact, when he won the US Polo Open with the Escue Team, becoming the youngest player ever to do so. Since that time, Nic, who boats an 8-goal handicap rating, has been busy pursuing and building interest in the game of polo on five continents. This, in addition to his support of various charitible efforts, including Brooke USA and the Kids Cancer Foundation.
We caught up with the Wellington, Florida-based player, model, and philanthropist to give him our 20-Question quiz.
1. At what exact moment did you fall in love with horses?
I grew up on a polo farm surrounded by horses and was riding from the age of three, so that was when I first fell in love with horses.
2. For riding, do you prefer black boots or brown boots?
3. If you could do any other equestrian discipline what would it be and why?
Show jumping as it’s exciting, very technical, and looks like a lot of fun.
4. What is the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to you while riding?
Getting hit in the crown jewels whilst playing in a game in Argentina a number of years ago.
5. What is the most inspiring thing to have ever happened to you while riding?
Playing young horses that you’ve made and having them go on to perform at the top level.
6. What is your favorite #TwoHearts Moment of your season?
I don’t have one moment. Every part of my season, in all the different seasons I play in, wherever I am in the world, I love the variety that polo brings.
7. What was the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your riding?
Not getting to the bottom of each horse, picking my plays, getting the best out of each horse, and learning to have patience. It comes down to experience and strategy.
8. Who is your mentor and why?
My dad, Raul, because he has been there for me since the very beginning, facilitating all and being supportive. He had an amazing polo career so knows the industry well.
9. If you could ride a horse from the past, who would it be?
I would pick two: Marsellesa, who was an amazing mare belonging to Bautista Heguy, and Colibri, who is a famous old gelding Adolfo Cambiaso played as a kid and who went on to play the Argentine Open with him for many years. He was a total legend and an elder statesman of the sport.
10. If you could ride a horse right now, that is not your own, who would it be?
Cuartetera, one of Adolfo Cambiaso’s best and most legendary mares. We can all but dream to have a string of horses like her.
11. How do horses keep you grounded in the industry that you live/work in?
There is nothing more calming, peaceful and grounding than being at the barn with my horses and horse trainers at the start of the day or the late afternoon. Getting to know each horse and learning new things each day from them.
12. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
13. When were you most happy on a horse?
Whenever I’m on the polo field. A particular standout moment was last year in the UK when the La Indiana team I was playing on beat a team called King Power Foxes in the semi-final of one of the two main tournaments played there. They are a huge entity, having been unbeaten for two years, and we were very much the underdogs. It goes to show what a great team unit and vibe can achieve and is a moment I’ll never forget. #TeamWorkToMakeADreamWork.
14. If your horse(s) were a famous person, who would they be?
- Cubana is an OTTB mare of mine that recently was awarded a Best Playing Pony award (you can read more about her here). She would be [Argentinian soccer player] Messi as she’s a natural, moving with ease and focus on the task at hand.
- My mare New York would be Tiger Woods—driven by a desire to achieve greatness.
- A big chestnut gelding I have called Bombo would be the Michael Jordan of the bunch. He’s always in top form, ready to compete at his personal best. He’s a machine who deserves more public credit than he’s received.
15. What is one piece of riding clothing or equipment you could never do without?
A polo stick.
16. What is your helmet of choice and why?
Falcon, as I believe them to be the most protective polo helmet that is being produced at the moment.
17. Which famous clothing brand do you wish would come out with an equestrian line?
18. What is your biggest splurge to date when it comes to your riding and/or horse(s)?
Buying more horses. You never have enough when it comes to polo, especially given our different seasons and the need to have a top string for each location and all year round.
19. What is the best piece of riding advice you have ever received and who from?
No one piece of advice sticks out, still waiting for it! When it comes to polo, I think it’s essential to ride well and I think sometimes people forget that. We may ride 13 horses per game so you have to be able to get used to a horse very quickly and be able to get the best out of it.
20. What is your life motto?
Live every day like it’s the last!
-All images courtesy of Nic Roldan.