Polo ponies are often not ponies at all, they are usually full sized horses ranging in size from 14.2 to 16 hands high at the withers (shoulders).
Many are thoroughbred crosses and some of the horses at Polo on the Beach are retrained racehorses. For many polo players the cost of importing horses or even breeding and training them from birth is very expensive, so being able to take on a horse that has already been ridden has many advantages. They are also very fast! Originally no horses higher than 54″ were allowed to play polo but today there aren’t limitations but smaller horses are better, providing they can carry the weight of the rider.
For polo, the ponies are as important as the players. In total there are usually about 40 ponies taking part over the weekend. They come from three stables including our local yard at Wadebridge, South West Polo, whilst the remaining come from Dorset and Somerset – Lytchett Heath Polo Club, Dorset, where Jemima and Rob Brockett train and lease horses specifically for polo, and Vaux Park Polo Club, which is one of our key polo players Tim Vaux’s polo yard in Somerset.
Meet the ponies
Negro is a regular player here at Watergate Bay and won Best Playing Pony at Polo on the Beach in 2008. Incredibly agile and quick, he is a big horse, with a big character to match. Originally from Argentina, he loves to have his photograph taken.
Originally from Argentina, Panina is an incredibly brave and determined polo pony. She is a keen a swimmer and an absolute machine on the ground. She won the Best Playing Pony title at Polo on the Beach in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Pachu is a real gentleman. He is often considered one of the favourites on the beach and at the polo club. He won Best Playing Pony in 2008 at the Sand Polo Championship in Sandbanks. Also born in Argentina, he’s a very determined pony.
Ruby Flare was born in Great Britain and is a former racehorse. She was successful over hurdles before being retrained as a polo pony. She is very fast and agile, often getting you there faster than anyone else! She is very gentle and loves children.
At 16:1hh Shrivar is the tallest pony at Polo on the Beach. He’s an English thoroughbred bay gelding and an ex racehorse. He won over £30,000 during his racing career. He is 16 years old and has been at South West Polo for 9 years where he's the top horse in the yard and the one everyone comes to see.
Another ex racehorse is Weetabix. A 15:2hh 10yr old English thoroughbred bay mare. Sired from Herons Well, Weetabix is a powerful mare with great acceleration. 2015 will be her third season at South West Polo and her second playing in the Watergate Bay arena at GWR Polo on the Beach.
The youngest in the South West Polo team, Piri is a 15:1hh, 6 year old bay gelding. He’s an Argentine thoroughbred and a new to the South West Polo stable, only bought at the end 2013. Very agile and handy, so good for tight turns. He’s going to make a very good arena or beach polo pony.
Paddy was bred from Ascot champion ‘Celtic Swing’. Following in the footsteps of his father’s legacy, he became a racehorse before being retrained as a polo pony. He is Irish-born and his father stood at the Irish National Stud, a big stud farm for top Irish stallions, so he certainly has good genes.