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A Day in the Life of a Professional Polo Player

Emily Hurst 03/31/2024
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Polo Player

 

Polo players spend their lives chasing the sun. When asked about his life as a professional polo player, Toto Socas remarked: “It’s getting to be where the sun always shines and being surrounded by people having fun.” But a day in the life of a polo player isn’t only fun and games; it’s hard work too.

80% of a polo player’s game is attributed to the performance of their polo ponies, so their day is dedicated to keeping their ponies and themselves in peak physical and mental condition.

Suffice it to say that a player’s and a pony’s daily routines are one and the same. The day starts with supervising the feeding and exercising of their string. Grooms are integral to the care of a player’s ponies and are responsible for every aspect of their well-being. The player’s involvement often depends on how big an operation they run. Some players will do much of the horse care themselves, while others will rely on grooms for their hands-on expertise.

Polo Player

 

A player and pony’s day starts early in the morning, ponies are often fed between 6 and 8:00 a.m. Grooms complete this task, but the pro often oversees it. Once the ponies have been fed and exercised, the ponies return to their stalls for the day unless they’re needed for practice or tournament games.

Players are also responsible for identifying individual areas of improvement for each pony and will add different exercises into their training program to keep them on top of their game. The player is often responsible for performing these exercises with their ponies.

Stick and Ball is a term used for practicing mallet skills; this can benefit the player (practicing certain shots like penalties or other difficult shots) or their ponies, working through areas of weakness. This can be a solo or team activity, depending on what needs to be addressed.

Polo Player

 

Singling is a term used to describe when the player will take the pony to the track or arena alone to exercise it at higher speed or work on sharper maneuvers like stopping and turning. Ponies are often singled the day before games to ensure they’re tuned to the player’s specifications, but each pony and player differ.

Following the sun means that polo clubs experience warm temperatures in the middle of the day; players, grooms, and ponies do their best to avoid this heat. Some players will use this quiet time to clean and organize tack, head to the store to stock up on supplies or rest. Others will use the time for their businesses, such as polo lesson programs, young horse training and sales operations.

Depending on the location and polo schedule, clubs usually return to life after 3:00 p.m. to repeat the morning routine of feeding, exercising, and individual training. Once complete, ponies return to their stalls and pens for the night.

Polo Player

 

The players also need to stay in peak mental and physical condition, from training in the gym to strategy sessions with their team. As with any athlete, players constantly work to maintain their competitive edge. What sets polo apart from other sports is that a professional’s livelihood depends on how their conditioning and relationship with their ponies come together on the field. Building and maintaining that relationship with their equine teammates is the most significant part of a pro’s day.

There are no holidays or weekends in the life of a pro. Ponies require round-the-clock care and maintenance, and with their livelihoods depending on it, pros must always be on call to help with, care for, and keep an eye on their ponies. While this constant hard work can be grueling, most players admit they wouldn’t want to do anything else.

In the words of Toto Socas, “You spend time with horses, you talk about horses, you socialize with other people about horses, and then it starts all over again,” just a day in the life of a professional polo player.


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