Got My Horse

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Polo Ponies

Polo players would not be able to execute their game without a trusty polo pony. These horses are all-stars on the field, bringing speed, agility, and endurance to the game.

But not all polo ponies are created equal. In this article, we’ll explore the different breeds of polo ponies and the traits that make them good for the game.

Different Polo Pony Breeds

Thoroughbred Polo Horses

Thoroughbred horses are bred for speed and are often used in polo because of their agility and power. These horses are tall, athletic, and possess a muscular build.

They’re built for sprinting, making them well-suited for short, intense bursts of energy. Thoroughbred horses are known for their competitive nature and their desire to win.

They’re also highly intelligent, which makes them easy to train.

Argentine Polo Pony


Argentine Polo Pony is a breed native to Argentina. These ponies are crossbred with Criollo horses, which are known for their endurance, and other breeds to create a horse that excels in polo.

Argentine polo ponies are typically smaller and more compact than their Thoroughbred counterparts, but they are incredibly agile and quick. Their ability to pivot and change direction quickly makes them ideal for the sport.

Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse Cross (Appendix)

The Appendix horse is a cross between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breeds. This crossbreed is known for its speed, agility, and endurance.

Like Thoroughbred horses, they’re built for sprinting, but their Quarter Horse lineage gives them a stronger lower body. This contributes to their ability to change directions quickly, accelerate, and stop on dime.

They also have a very docile personality, making them easy to train.

Manipuri Breed

The Manipuri breed originates from the northeast region of India. They are small in size but possess powerful hindquarters, making them nimble and quick on the polo field.

Manipuri ponies are known for their agility, lightness, and ability to quickly pivot. They are often used by beginners and professionals alike because of their easygoing nature.

Traits of a Good Polo Horse Breed

Physical Attributes

When it comes to polo ponies, physical attributes play a considerable role in a horse’s ability to perform. To be a good polo horse, they must be able to run quickly, turn on a dime, and accelerate, all while carrying a rider.

A horse that is built like this will have a strong, muscular build, powerful hindquarters, and a deep chest. These attributes are essential for short bursts of speed and acceleration.

Intelligence and Trainability

Intelligence and trainability are critical traits for a good polo horse. A polo player must have a good relationship with their horse, and the horse must understand what the player wants it to do on the field.

Horses that are intelligent and easily trainable are preferred over those that are laid back and slow. The bond between the player and the horse can often be the difference between a win and a loss.

Strong Hindquarters

Strong hindquarters are essential for a good polo horse. A horse with a strong back end has better leverage, which is crucial for acceleration.

Thoroughbred horses are known for their explosive speed, and their muscular hindquarters contribute to that. When a horse can accelerate quickly, it gives the player an advantage on the field.

Horses with strong hindquarters also have the ability to change direction quickly, which is necessary on the polo field.


In conclusion, polo ponies play a pivotal role in the sport of polo. Different breeds possess different qualities that make them stand out on the field.

Thoroughbred horses are strong, competitive, and agile, while Argentine polo ponies are quick, nimble, and able to pivot on a dime. Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse crosses are known for their speed, agility, and docile personalities.

Manipuri ponies are small but mighty, known for their powerful hindquarters and quick pivots. Ultimately, the horse and rider’s relationship is essential to a win on the field, and ponies with intelligence, trainability, and strong hindquarters are coveted.

While each breed brings something special to the sport, it ultimately comes down to the bond between horse and rider.

Gender of Polo Ponies

When it comes to the gender of polo ponies, there are differing opinions within the polo community. While some players prefer mares, others may choose to use gelded males or stallions.

Each option has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Preference for Mares

Many players prefer using mares for polo matches. Mares generally have a softer temperament than their male counterparts, making them easier to work with.

They may also be more receptive to training and commands from the rider. Female horses are also well-suited for breeding, which is an essential aspect of developing a successful polo team.

Mares are also known for their agility and speed. They are often quick and nimble on the field, making them ideal for playing a fast-paced game like polo.

Additionally, mares are thought to be more consistent in their performance than male horses, even during their estrus cycle, which can be a significant advantage for players.

Use of Gelded Males and Stallions

While it’s less common to see male horses used in polo, some players prefer using gelded males or stallions. These horses may have more testosterone in their system, which can contribute to their strength and endurance.

However, this can also make them more headstrong and challenging to train and work with. Geldings, or castrated male horses, may be a good choice for players who want a horse with the physical attributes of a male horse but with a calmer disposition.

Geldings’ behavior is more reliable and predictable as a result of their removal, and they are easier to train. Some players believe that gelded males are less prone to distractions on the field, which can make them ideal for high-pressure situations.

Stallions, on the other hand, are uncastrated male horses that can be more challenging to work with than other types of horses. They have a stronger presence on the field and can be more aggressive.

Still, their potential strength and energy can be used to an advantage on the field. However, it takes an experienced player to effectively handle and train a stallion.

Training of Polo Ponies

Training polo ponies is an essential aspect of the game. The physical and mental abilities of the horse can greatly impact the game’s outcome.

As such, training must begin at a young age and continue for several months to years to ensure that the horse is well-prepared for the rigor of the sport.

Age for Training

The recommended age for training polo ponies is between 2-4 years old. Horses are generally physically mature at this age and can handle the physical demands of polo.

Beginning training on horses at a young age helps to develop the qualities required in a successful polo horse and sets a good foundation for future training. As they get older, horses become more set in their ways, which can make training more challenging and time-consuming.

Duration of Training

The duration of training for polo ponies can vary, but the typical timeframe is six months to two years. During this time, horses will undergo a rigorous training regimen that involves developing their physical and mental abilities.

The process includes teaching the horse how to stop, turn, accelerate, and maneuver on the field. Training also focuses on developing the horse’s responsiveness to rider commands and handling game situations.

By the time a horse has completed its training, it should be a well-trained and reliable member of the team. A well-trained horse performs at about 70% of the team’s overall performance level, which shows how pivotal the horse’s training is for the game’s success.


In conclusion, the gender of a polo pony can play a role in its suitability for the game. Mares may be preferred due to their softer temperament, agility, and consistency in performance.

But gelded males or stallions can also bring the physical attributes required for polo. Proper training is also essential to develop the horse’s physical and mental abilities fully.

Ideally, training should start between 2-4 years old and persist for several months to years to refine the horse’s abilities. A well-trained horse is critical to the success of a polo team, accounting for around 70% of the game’s overall performance level.

Care for Polo Ponies

Proper care of polo ponies is crucial for their health, safety, and performance on the field. Care encompasses both physical and medical aspects, including adequate feed, comfortable bedding, veterinarian exams, and more.

Optimal Feed and Bedding

Providing adequate feed is crucial for maintaining a polo ponys health and energy levels. Horses require a high-fiber diet, which can be achieved with good quality hay or pasture.

Additionally, a balanced diet of grains and supplements can help ensure that ponies get the nutrients they need to stay healthy, especially if they are competing at a high level of polo. Proper bedding is also essential for a ponys comfort and safety.

The bedding should be absorbent, provide support for the pony’s legs, and be dust-free to prevent respiratory issues. Bedding should also be changed and replenished regularly to keep cleanliness and reduce the risk of disease or other health issues.

Veterinarian Exams

Polo ponies should have frequent veterinary exams to maintain optimal health, detect health issues early, and develop preventative care plans. During the exam, veterinarians will perform a physical exam, check the pony’s vital signs, and assess their overall health.

Vaccinations, medications, dental care, and parasite control are other essential aspects considered during veterinary exams. A healthy horse is more likely to perform well on the field, which necessitates regular veterinary care.


Number of Horses Used in a Polo Team

A typical polo match is played with two teams of four players each. Each team also usually has 12 horses lined up off the field, with four horses provided for each period, called a chukker.

Since each chukker lasts for seven minutes, players must change horses often to prevent physical exhaustion. Therefore, a single match would require a total of 48 horses for each team, with help from the teams grooms to manage the horses throughout the match.

Tails Braided and Manes Hogged

In terms of appearance, polo ponies tails are usually plaited and manes hogged, which is a traditional practice. Polo players braid the tail of a polo pony to keep it out of the way of the mallet.

Horses manes are often hogged or trimmed short to reduce the risk of getting tangled up in the rider’s gear while playing a match. Also, the pony may have its dock trimmed or shaved because some players may use their tail to help balance.

The overall goal is to maintain a neat and tidy appearance that allows the pony to function effectively and safely on the field.


Overall, caring for a polo pony is crucial for optimal health, safety, and performance. Providing adequate feed, comfortable bedding, and regular veterinary exams, among other things, can help maintain a horse’s excellent health.

Miscellaneous practices such as braiding the tail, hogging manes, trimming the dock, and ensuring overall neatness serve practical and aesthetic purposes. Ultimately, proper care and maintenance of polo ponies help to ensure that they can perform to the best of their abilities on the field.

In summary, proper care of polo ponies is crucial for their health, safety, and performance on the field. This article has explored the different breeds of polo ponies, the traits of a good polo horse breed, the gender of polo ponies, the training of polo ponies, and care for polo ponies.

Maintaining an optimal diet, comfortable bedding, and regular veterinary exams are essential for the ponies’ health and performance, while braiding tails and hogging manes serves practical and aesthetic purposes. Polo ponies are not just tools for the sport but also valued members of the team, and as such, deserve excellent care and maintenance to enable them to perform well and live a healthy life.


Q: What are the recommended breeds of polo ponies? A: Popular breeds of polo ponies include Thoroughbred,

Argentine Polo Pony, Appendix, and Manipuri.

Q: What are the physical attributes required for a good polo horse breed? A: A good polo horse breed should possess speed, endurance, agility, and strong hindquarters.

Q: What is the recommended age for training polo ponies? A: It is recommended to start training polo ponies between 2-4 years old.

Q: What are the ideal number of horses used in a polo team? A: Each team requires 48 horses, with four horses provided for each chukker during a polo match.

Q: Why do polo ponies have their tails braided and their manes hogged? A: Polo ponies have their tails braided and their manes hogged to prevent entanglement with the mallet while playing the game.

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