an insider’s glimpse into the illustrious career and lifestyle of a high goal polo player

A “High Goal Polo Player” is a player who has a handicap of 6 and over (regularly scores 6 goals or more during a single match), with a string of “polo ponies”, usually a minimum of 12 but who often have an average of 30-40 horses, that are fit and eager to play. These players are officially ranked by the WPT, World Polo Tour. This ranking is constantly updated; each player is ranked according to his/her performance, during the course of the year, in the main tournaments around the world. Points are accumulated during the year; prizes are awarded to the each month’s best player and to the overall best player of the year.
A professional polo player, like the well-known Nacho Figueras or the highest-ranked Adolfo Cambiaso, is widely thought of as someone who spends all day with his horses, is always outdoors, travels all over the world, enjoys performing in front of a crowd, mingles with celebrities, has a world-traveled passport, attends parties with royalty, is privileged to VIP entrances to all the best parties, meets other sports-celebrities from every sport imaginable, receives bonuses each time he wins a tournament, is paid 4 figures per game, the hero of all polo enthusiasts (ladies included) and has all the most beautiful women in the world as your fans.
While the daily life of these famous polo players may seem quite grand and privileged, there is a serious amount of hard work required by the player and quite a good portion of his personal time and money are dedicated to maintaining his profession: A Polo professional will need to have at least a dozen trained polo ponies to have a competitive string, all fit and ready to play. Each high goal game is at least 6 chukkers (time periods); hence, if you play two days in a row then you will have to have at least 12 horses, not counting the ones that may be just a little sore. Some low goal players will have only 2 ponies and will “double up” to play a 4 chukker game. Most top polo professionals will have a horse they keep to work their timing with pre-game, be it one hour or two before games. On non-game days, pros will take out a few ponies and “stick and ball” them to maintain and improve their skills. The exercise-riders take the ponies out in the mornings in sets (they sit on one horse and have 3 ponies aside) to jog them and loosen them up and keep their lungs and oxygen intake at par for competition. The pro will indicate to the riders which horse needs to be ridden individually to either “blow them out” (let them stretch at a full gallop) or “short work them” (many stops, turns and short bursts of speed). These are usually scheduled the day prior to the high goal game. The best polo pros make it a point to watch each pony played at a walk, looking for soreness, heat or inflammation. The front tendons, hocks and stifles are of greatest concern. The pony is walked until he is relaxed and has his head down, enjoys some grazing and gets sun on his back. The pro is responsible for selecting and overseeing the patron’s string. It is customary for the pro of the team to work with the patron on riding and hitting skills, this is usually done on the patron’s private fields and mostly in the afternoons pre-game. The pro will sometimes work on his strength and endurance - stretching sessions in the morning are most important.