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Polo and the Connection between the Horse and Player

The sport of polo is both fast and freeing. The most important part of the game is the connection between the horse and the player. Horses are incredibly sensitive animals in both their demeanor and adaptability. Regardless of the size of the horse, the slightest touch anywhere from nose to tail is instantly registered due to their hypersensitive sense of touch. Overtime, this incredible evolutionary skill has become the foundation for the connection between horse and player that has been utilized throughout history from cavalry units to professional polo players.

No matter the chosen riding discipline, whether it is polo, dressage or jumping, the rider’s weight, in combination with any tack, crops, boots, or spurs are all recognized as foreign to the horse. Clasping the reins tightly sends a direct signal to the horse’s mouth through the equipment called a bit. Sitting forward in the saddle changes what points of pressure are active on the horse’s back. All of these feelings, isolated or in sync, create an intricate message that must be carefully crafted by the player to ask the horse to move in a certain direction, at a specific speed, and with a clear purpose. Having to consider all of these dynamics constantly is challenging in of itself, but in polo, communication becomes even more complicated when all of the other components of the sport come into play.

During a polo match, the horse and player must constantly be aware of all the other players on the field. The player must be able to control their horse, while also keeping track of the play, avoiding fouls, and making strong and strategic hits with their mallet. This may seem intimidating to a horse, so trust between the horse and player is essential. Trust is developed through forming a bond with your equine teammate by taking the time to understand your pony’s needs. This can be demonstrated by providing care, paying attention to detail, and effectively communicating.

Polo is a balancing act that is only possible through a strong connection between the horse and player. If the horse or player is disconnected, performance during a match or practice is impacted and can lead to miscues and even serious falls. However, when the horse and player are perfectly in sync and communicating with one another, the connection between the senses is transcended and becomes something much greater. These are moments of seamlessness; these special moments of closeness and kinship are moments that become addicting to all players who continuously return for more. These indescribable moments where the mind, body, and heart of the horse and player are united is what makes riding and polo much more than a sport, but a lifelong passion.

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