As polo season returns to the sporting calendar, socialites and Royals alike are taking part in tournaments and it’s time to start preparing your own polo pony for the coming weeks. With some fixtures running into September, there are plenty of opportunities to get in a few chukkers.
However, it is important to make sure you have prepared your pony well. To ensure you have covered every angle before you get into a game, here is a look at how to care for your horse when taking part in polo matches.
Focusing on what you are feeding your horse is a good starting point. The key is to feed small amounts several times a day. This might need some trial and error as each horse is different and it may be that it has a bigger appetite first thing in the morning, or it might snack on its feed.
Take the size of your horse into account to ensure you’re giving it as much as it needs to function, but remember that you’re working it hard this season, so it will need more energy supplied by a decent feed.
It is important to focus on fibre, too. Providing a diet that’s high in fibre will help to keep them fit during polo season and beyond, so make sure the grass and hay that’s in their feed is plentiful.
There are lots of health concerns to consider with horses at the moment, so it’s worth keeping on top of vaccinations and taking it for regular checks. There is also either the two-stage or five-stage vet checks that are run. The five-stage version is more in-depth than the two-stage option and is advisable if you want to ensure your pony is match-ready.
This five-stage process includes a preliminary examination, which sees your horse thoroughly checked over by the vet, covering everything from teeth to its breathing. This is followed by a walk and trot to check for any issues with gait. The horse is then ridden, and checks are conducted during this exercise stage, as well as after during a rest period to see how it recovers. Finally, there is another trot in-hand to examine any issues post-exercise.
In addition to making sure your horse is in good condition, how you get it to each match is also key to its care and involves a lot of prep. You will need a trailer that it can move around in comfortably, as well as a vehicle that can easily navigate both main roads and country lanes.
If you are set to play in a few fixtures, it is essential that your trailer stays in perfect condition. Horse trailer insurance can offer peace of mind. This will cover you if your trailer were to be damaged and will provide that extra level of protection.
Knowing how to tack up is a useful skill and can form part of the pre-match process that helps to build your relationship with your horse.
Remember to begin by focusing on the dirt. Brush your horse and work through the hooves to clean them out. From there you can add the saddle, reins, bridle and other gear.
The reins are known as ‘running reins’ and these run through the bit and continue along to your hands. Therefore, when placing the bit, it is important to make sure that it tugs very slightly. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose as the bit is used to direct the horse.
By caring for your polo pony, you can have a strong season and enjoy riding it for the seasons to come.