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Hi. I’m Connor Kay, a 16-year-old polo player. Unlike most polo players, however, I don’t come from a polo family and started with horses back in Pony Club a decade ago. Since then I went on to retrain my all rounder pony to play, then purchased some polo ponies. Since then I have represented England in the HPA Whitbread Trophy, advanced to a 0 goal handicap and retrained 3 ex-racehorses. Having started off outside ‘the polo bubble’ myself, I have made it my goal to support grassroots low goal polo which gives a start into the sport for so many players, including myself.
Polo Weight Limits
The authorities are tightening up when it comes to looking at weight limits, after a debate over the welfare of horses that are ridden by overweight riders fueled over the past few years. In the eyes of the authorities, a lot of riders are too heavy for their horse, this can be due to overweight riders or simply a pony that is too small for the rider. In recent months the debate has become more prominent, caused by high profile dismissals from bigger competitions like the ‘Horse of the year show’ for riders deemed to be too heavy for their horses.
A number of vets have come up with an estimated weight which they think is acceptable for our horses to carry. These estimates have ranged from 10 - 20% of a horse’s given body weight. Some quick maths would likely show that a polo player is overweight after factoring in tack, which is often very heavy. Players who would not usually categorise themselves as overweight could find themselves being too heavy for the requirements.
Smaller ponies are common across the polo community as they have been found to be nimbler than the larger horses, making it easier to hit the ball off. If the legislation was bought in to fight the weight problem there would be huge distribution throughout the polo community.
What are the odds of the legislation being bought into play?
In all honesty, I don’t think anything will come of the legislation and polo will quietly move away from the issues raised by other equine disciplines, as it’s done in the past. Many people in the polo community will keep a low profile until the storm passes and the issue is swept under the carpet. But saying this, the latest issues regarding helmet regulations and revised rules to try and speed up the game have been taken into consideration by the HPA and they are attempting to bring polo more in line with the majority of the equine world, which is after all the only way polo is going to achieve a more widespread coverage that it desperately needs. If polo is going to become a more mainstream sport or make it to events such as the Olympics, it won’t be able to get away with bypassing rules that it or it’s members don’t like.
The HPA has stated that they are keeping an eye on the situation but there have been no official announcements that a new rule will be enforced on the weight limits of riders. If the legislation did come into play it would have a knock-on effect throughout the polo community, with not only riders being affected and told they are unable to play but to the people who hire ponies or provide lessons in the sport will have their whole livlihood taken away from them.
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