Most people only know the polo pony from the sport of polo. As a perfect mixture of Criollo and thoroughbred, the medium-sized horses are also interesting for demanding leisure riders.

But the purchase of the spirited horses is often withheld from polo players.

Breed description

Polo Pony 7

Strictly speaking, the polo pony is not an independent breed of horse. Rather, the name polo pony is intended to describe a special type of horse that is bred almost exclusively for the sport of polo.

These are medium-sized horses that have a high degree of liveliness, agility, and speed.

In Germany, there is now the German polo horse and in Argentina, the home country of polo, the Polo Argentino horse breed, which has been recognized since 1984.

Size: 148 – 160 cm
Weight: 400 – 500 kg
Origin: Argentina
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: All colors
Suitable as: Free time, jumping

Origin and breed history

Origin of the sport of polo

The history of the polo pony is closely intertwined with the history of the sport of polo. Polo is probably one of, if not the oldest team sport in the world and has its origins in Persia.

Alexander the Great is said to have been a great admirer of the sport of polo. The popular sport of polo developed rapidly, especially in Asia in the 3rd century BC.

It took some time before the sport of polo came to Europe. It was British soldiers in the 19th century who, during their colonial days in Manipur, East India, discovered the sport of polo for themselves and brought it with them to England.

In the beginning, polo was played on Manipur ponies in England. However, these only had a height of not even 130 cm. The ponies were clearly too small for the English, which is why they began to crossbreed English thoroughbreds.

In addition to English thoroughbreds, the English also crossbred Dartmoor ponies and New Forest ponies. They not only hoped to get a horse that matched their ideas, but also to be able to make the local horse breeds strong again.

The English initially set a maximum height of 147 cm, but this was lifted again in 1916. In polo, the ideas of what the perfect polo pony should look like were too different.

While the English valued stable and robust ponies, America preferred a significantly larger, more elegant and more agile type that could only be achieved with a high percentage of whole blood.

Argentina becomes a guide in the sport of polo

For a long time it was unclear in which direction the breeding of the polo pony should go. It was only when Argentina emerged as the number one polo sport nation in the 1930s that the Criollo was crossed with English thoroughbreds in order to obtain a sturdy, agile and fast horse.

The new polo pony type was larger than the horse type preferred by the English. Some polo ponies from Argentina sometimes reach a height of 180 cm, 155 cm being considered ideal.

The Argentines tried to breed the perfect polo pony with fast thoroughbred stallions and Criollo mares suitable for polo.

Breeding today

The main breeding area for polo ponies is still in Argentina today. In order to underpin their efforts and ambitions in the sport of polo, the Argentines registered their polo pony as a separate breed as Polo Argentino in 1984.

Almost 8000 breeders are now registered in the Argentine Association of Polo Pony Breeders. The studbook of the breeding association is open, which means that not only mares are admitted who can prove a complete Polo Argentino pedigree.

Any mare of the desired type can be used as a broodmare after a test.

Since the sport of polo is still very popular in England, a large number of polo argentinos are still exported there. But polo is not only popular in England and Argentina. The first polo game in Germany took place as early as 1896.

The Germans did not remain idle either and in 2000 the German polo horse was recognized as an independent breed.

Corresponding horses even have a special branding and are bred by some breeders in Germany especially for the sport of polo.

The appearance of the polo pony

The height of a polo pony can be between 148 and 160 cm. 150 to 155 cm are considered ideal. All colors are allowed for the polo pony. Piebalds are also common.

The mane and tail of the polo pony are thick and long. The influences of the criollo and the English thoroughbred are clearly visible in most of the polo ponies.

The physique is square and dry with long legs. In a horse, a dry physique means a well-toned body with little fat but a high percentage of muscle.

With the polo pony, you can see at first glance that it is a well-trained athlete.

The back is naturally well-muscled, the croup sloping and the entire hindquarters are strikingly strong, the neck is elegantly curved and connects to a strong forehand with a well-defined withers.

The head of the polo pony often looks a bit coarser compared to the body, depending on how strong the influence of the criollo is. In any case, the eyes are large and lively. As with the Criollo, the joints are strong and dry.

Temperament and essence

The polo pony is a spirited horse and has a very bright nature. Not only is it quick and agile in its movements, but it also has an equally lively character and is quick to think.

The polo pony is not only characterized by its temperament. It is an absolutely fearless horse, which is very balanced.

This combination makes the polo pony an excellent companion for riders who appreciate liveliness combined with strong nerves and sovereignty.

Husbandry and nutrition

Polo Pony 8

Attitude

Many polo ponies are accordingly easy to feed and can easily tolerate unlimited hay feeding. Due to their ancestry and depending on the percentage of whole blood, the horses may tend to freeze in colder temperatures and persistent wetness.

A dry and protected shelter is therefore mandatory. Depending on the characteristics of the winter coat, it may even be necessary to cover or even stow the polo pony.

Nutrition

Like every horse, the polo pony is dependent on high-quality feed. The polo pony is clearly one of the athletes among the horses and needs enough hay and concentrated feed when doing the right work in order not to become too thin.

For many people, the polo pony looks emaciated and too thin. However, you must never forget that this type of horse is an athletic horse with a very low body fat percentage.

This means that they naturally appear more sinewy, bony, and more muscular than other ponies and horses.

Education and care

Upbringing

The polo pony has a very pleasant character, which makes the upbringing unproblematic. It appears lively, agile and spirited when playing, but is able to relax immediately afterwards.

This also makes the polo pony interesting for beginners. Despite its pleasant nature and appealing temperament, the polo pony can be found almost exclusively in the sport of polo.

Although it is suitable for a number of other disciplines such as western and endurance riding, it is rarely found in these disciplines. The polo pony can also cut a good figure as a pure leisure horse.

A polo pony does not necessarily need polo to be busy. Extended rides and demanding mental work such as clicker training are also a good alternative.

Maintenance

When playing polo, the horses’ tails are tied up and their manes are braided so that they do not get tangled up with the clubs.

This is a precautionary measure to protect horses and players and does not have to be practiced in normal horse riding or dressage.

Health and Typical Diseases

Through the crossbreeding of the criollo, the polo pony is a robust and resilient horse and does not tend to diseases typical of the breed if it is kept and fed appropriately.

As with any horse, however, you should regularly check the polo pony for ticks and warm it up properly before an intensive training session in order to avoid early signs of wear and tear such as osteoarthritis.

Life expectancy

Depending on use and previous health conditions, the polo pony can live to be between 25 and 30 years old with good care.

Buy polo pony horse breed

Have you decided to keep a horse as a pet and did you choose a polo pony?

Here you can find out what to look out for when buying, what costs you have to reckon with, and where you can even find a polo pony. In fact, buying a polo pony is not that easy.

In addition to the difficulty of finding such a horse, polo ponies are correspondingly expensive. A horse that has been trained for polo and already used there costs $16,000 and more.

A polo pony can be used in any equestrian sport, but primarily it is only used in polo. The ponies are accordingly rare and very popular.

Many polo ponies are now imported directly from Argentina and are correspondingly expensive.

Often it is easier to get a young horse through breeders, but for such a horse the price is already around $3500 to $4500.

Decision support

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The polo pony is without a doubt a horse, which is fun for every rider who is looking for a maneuverable, skillful, but at the same time impeccable horse.

It can be used in many fields, but you should take into account that due to its size and structure, the polo pony is not necessarily suitable for every rider.

Small and fine horses with a stick measure of around 150 cm are more suitable for petite and small riders. Before you buy, however, you should be aware that polo ponies are thoroughbred athletes.

They have the good-naturedness and strong nerves of the Criollo, but also the speed and liveliness of the English thoroughbreds. In addition, they have been bred exclusively for polo for decades.

By their nature, they may be suitable for beginners, but they are better off in hands who appreciate their temperament and enjoy working with the horse.

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