Guest article from Michael Husted, Performance Polo
Across Europe and North America, COVID-19 has imposed delays and restrictions in polo, but luckily, those restrictions are gradually being lifted and some countries has already seen a return to normal polo. In the UK, competitive polo (8 goals and up) launched this weekend, albeit without ride-offs, throw-ins and spectators, but it seems likely that these restrictions will also be lifted in the coming weeks, and we are only too happy to be back in the saddle and looking forward to some great high-goal polo.
Both in polo as well as in other equestrian sports, the conversation some times turn to the weight carried by our horses and, specifically, how much is a safe weight for them to carry. Of course, this is in part a function of the size and type of horse, its fitness and various other factors, but most articles and scientific papers hover around 20% of the horse‘s own weight and see deteriorating performance and potential back problems resulting from more than approx. 20% added to the horse‘s weight.
Of course, it‘s not just the rider‘s weight that matters. Polo requires a lot of gear that piles on the kilos / pounds. In fact, a full set of tack, stick and personal protection, may well add up to 20 kgs (44 lbs). So, if we assume – for simplicity – that polo ponies average 450 kg (1000 lbs), then placing 20% or 90 kgs on top of them should be reasonably safe. Subtracting 20 kgs (44 lbs) for tack and gear leaves just 70 kgs (155 lbs) for the player.
So, those of us hitting somewhere north of 70 kgs on the scale, what can we do? Well, there are diets and exercise, of course, and I certainly intend to shed a few covid-pounds. But in addition to diets and exercise, we should also consider trimming the weight of all the gear that our horses carry around. It‘s not unusual for a polo saddle to weigh in at 8-9 kgs (18-20 lbs), which is one reason why the Ainsley Saddlery has invested time and effort in creating the MVP that weighs in at just 5 kgs (11 lbs) (18“). Polo stirrupsgenerally weigh over 1 kg, but modern materials can reduce that weight by half. And what about the saddle pads? Some wool pads can easily weigh 1 kg (2 lbs) each. Exchange those for light weight pads, or if your saddle fits well, consider playing without any pads. Bandages get wet and heavy, and weight at the end of horses‘ legs produce twice the load of the same weight carried at the saddle. Another reason to switch to lightweight leg protection, like the HUSK la Irenita boots.
So, without too much effort, I can lose 4-5 kgs (9-11 lbs) by taking a closer look at all the stuff my horse needs to carry in addition to me. Let‘s say I also lose 5 kgs, and suddenly my horses carry up to 2% less total weight. This is on a scale that our horses will be able to run a little faster, stop a little quicker, and also recover quicker from exertion.
We can help you shed weight faster than any diet or exercise (for polo fitness, check out Chukka Wellness)! For lightweight polo gear, call us on +44-7487-548242 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.