Polo is an exciting sport to watch and participate in. Polo ponies and their riders race around the pitch. Riders carrying a long mallet strike the ball to send it down the field and in to the opposing team’s goal. The polo ponies go full out for each chukker.
The key to success in polo is having polo ponies that are in peak condition and are trained to respond instantaneously to the rider’s directions. In polo, horses are called upon to gallop at full speed and then stop on a dime. They have to make quick turns, and at times they are called upon to back up. Learning all that is required is difficult for some horses, but horses with the right spirit can learn and thrive.
The first aspect of training a polo pony requires that a horse be comfortable with being touched. A trainer will start out with a young horse. The horse will be tied out on a walker. The trainer will spend time just approaching the horse and touching different part of the horse. This gets the horse use to the fact that in a match, the horse will feel contact at various places from other horses and riders.
After the polo pony is comfortable with touch and being around people, leg training begins. This type of training gets the horse use to changing legs to go in a different direction. The horse is also trained to instantly stop and turn at this stage.
This type of riding training makes use of leg pressure and release. When the trainer wants the horse to perform a certain action, the horse will be lead to complete the action, and the trainer will place pressure against the side of the horse with his legs. When the horse has correctly executed the movement, the pressure will be released. Soon, the horse will understand what is required.
The next aspect of training gets the polo pony acquainted with the polo ball and mallet. The horse is allowed to smell these objects, and the trainer will toss these objects near the horse and rub them lightly against the horse to acclimate the horse.
A final stage before match training is observation. Polo ponies learn by watching other horses in slower matches.
Not all horses are good candidates for polo pony training. Those who have heart and stamina will enjoy training and playing in the games.