50 Things Polo
Equestrian | Spotlight
Polo isn’t just a sport, but a way of living life. It teaches you a lot and that’s why once addicted you are addicted to it for life.
A New Chapter
Born in darkness, fortuitously spotted by civilization, Polo became a World Sport by proxy. Even though this majestic
game had always been an integral part of the Manipuri ideology, it was the Britishers who gave the game a place under
The dawn of the eighteenth century saw a cultural relationship between the ever-expanding British Empire and the
Mongolian race of Manipur and the Surma Valley became the meeting ground of the two cultures. The devastating war with
the Burmese forced the Manipuri Princess, Chourjit, Marjit, Nar Singh and Gambhir Singh to settle at Cachar. In the lush
green plains of Cachar, the frontier territory of the colonel British India, the Britishers saw the Manipuri Princess
practising the battle exercises on horseback with swinging dart of Arambais or at other times playing a strange game of
hockey on horseback, swinging a mallet with equal verve. Strange was the habit of the Manipuris who never left their
little ponies either in war or peace. The Britishers, seeing an intimidating ally in the Manipuris, signed the treaty of
alliance with Gambhir Singh and formed the famous Manipur Levy.
Polo Brings You Closer To Nature
Emilio Urrea Kirby loves Polo, the horses and his passion for the sport, but above it all, he is one of those who loves
polo as a means where he can find himself closer to nature. “I think Polo does not embrace a luxurious lifestyle. It
embraces a lifestyle of loving and being with horses and being healthy. You come into contact with people who appreciate
you. But on a daily basis, you need to be with your horses. I feel there is misinterpretation when it comes to this.
Polo is all about taking care of the horses and that’s how you will reach the heights in the game.”
Royalty & Polo
As early as the age of 9, HRH Maj Gen Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim had his heart throbbing for the horses and the
glorious sport of Polo, which runs in his family, more as a tradition now than as a hobby. Right from the Crown Prince
of Johor’s great-great-grandfather, to himself, Polo has deep roots in his family.
What inspired the Crown Prince of Johor to take to the sport? He says: “One of my greatest inspirations behind joining
the sport is my father, the Sultan of Johor. I’ve always watched him play and love the way he plays. He was one of my
The Polo Ponies
It is very usual to hear polo players talk about their favourite polo ponies. While their choices are sure to differ,
one thing is constant and that is these players remarking at the “big hearts” of their ponies.
Polo is known for the speed, the thrill, the action and the moves– that if skipped–are skipped forever. It is usual to
see players colliding into each other, pushing in wake to grab the control of the ball. It is a constant horse race,
where the ponies don’t have the time and moment to shy away to seize the bright white ball. It is for all of this, that
the polo ponies are trained. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can a polo pony be trained fast. The journey from
an infant pony to the brave beauty on the field is a long process. It needs to be trained, the game demands skill. Polo
ponies are trained to be brave enough to follow the ball and let that bamboo polo mallet swing near their heads. They
need to be quick and agile in order to take sudden sharp turns and follow the path of the ball through various
movements. It is important for them to stay in good shape, physically as well as mentally.
Polo undoubtedly is a sport filled with thrill and speed, but what brings the flavour to it, is the unmatched enthusiasm
of the commentary. Jan Marie Kiesel, known as Nigeria’s only woman polo player. She walked the path of glory all her
life achieving the best she could and contributing to Polo.
The Polo Groom
We have witnessed the power and performance of Polo on lush green fields, but what makes Polo what it is, is a story
worth telling. Polo is an endless fable of heroes and some of them, we don’t usually see mounted on the top of a
glorious pony. They have dedicated their lives and time to the animal who makes 80 percent of the game. These experts
are the polo grooms.
From 5 am to the rest of the running clock, polo grooms stay up with the ponies in their best and their worst–talking,
caring, loving and playing with the horses. How effortlessly do they give all of themselves to the four legged animal is
a tale of unconditional love.
Age Can’t Stop You
POLO isn’t always the natural choice for most people, but it takes a distinctive spark to be one in a million! Dale
Johnson, at the age of 32, discovered his love for the sport. He set himself into a challenge of “100 hours on the
field” and since then, there has been no looking back. He has exceeded his own challenge, and is flying high with
spirited colours, making his way as the king on glorious ponies.
The Great Turfs
The grandeur of polo is matched by a grand field that is 10-15 acres, six times larger than an average soccer field. Not
every field is suitable for a polo match – it requires good drainage, and excellent turf. Sometimes the grass is a
mixture of more than one variety and grown from seeds. A good field ensures a good performance of the horses and the
least injury to them. An interesting polo tradition is ‘divot stamping’ which allows the spectators to stretch their
legs during half time while socializing, but more importantly it repairs the field.
Over time, the game’s venue evolved, so that now there are beach polo, paddock polo, indoor polo, arena polo and the
picturesque snow polo. Today a polo field is exclusive to the sport, but a couple of centuries back, the polo grounds
were open to other sports. Some of the most sought-after polo clubs in the world are Santa Maria Polo Club in the Costa
del Sol in Spain and Chantilly Polo Club in France.
The Tale of the Polo Balls
Subhas Chandra Baug is the only man alive who possesses the skill to shape a polo ball out of bamboo. “The bamboo ball
is stopped from manufacturing because wooden is in demand. Bamboo balls were used on a large scale earlier because we
had a lot of bamboo trees in the village. We used the roots to make the ball with our hands. The ball was in great
demand but the quality kept falling. As there were a lot of orders, some companies in Kolkata took the order but started
to use bad quality for making the ball. Slowly, the trend moved to plastic balls.” Baug says that the plastic ball won’t
have a long haul in the sport. He points out the disadvantages. “Plastic balls have a lot of speed, which is difficult
for the horse because he has to run faster. I feel we will come back to the wooden balls.”
The Polo Helmet
Accidents are a part of life, a part of sport and a part of everything you do. Polo is a high risk unprecedented play
always prone to accidents both minor and severe. Polo helmets were introduced way back and have been evolving in its
safety insurance and protection with advancement in technology and a better understanding of the game and its