Saturday, August 30, 2008
Here is a pinto polo pony.
My daughter and I called him Spot.
Then we spent the rest of the day naming all the other horses we saw with words starting in "SP".
Spot, Spider, Sparticus, Spud, Spike, Spook, Spiffy, Spade, Spearmint....
Ahhhh - the frivolty of vacation!
Here is some polo trivia:
Polo was the world's first team sport. It probably originated in ancient Persia. It was played in China and also India. British soldiers discovered it there and gave it its first official rules.
In ancient times, the game was not over until someone had been killed. It is called the sport of kings, not because Prince Charles plays, but because the rajahs played it.
Historians do not know the specific origins of the game. Some think it stems from river rat hunting with spears, others think that the first polo balls were actually goat skins, and that the game originated in the Mongolian steppes (like Bukashi).
Whatever the case, polo was taken to South America and perfected by the Argentines who have the worlds top players, horses, and tournaments. The horses are mainly thoroughbred now, although the original polo ponies were truly scruffy ponies.
Criollo horses, used to herd cattle, were the first Argentine polo ponies, being agile, tough, and quick. The Criollos were bred to throroughbreds, making faster, leaner horses. Now, only a pinto coat such as this suggests the Criollo origins. (Criollos are known for their flamboyant colors.) Polo ponies neck rein, and players use a lot of leg. Polo riding is very fluid, instinctive, and athletic. The horses are quick to respond to the rider, and there is little contact with the horse's mouth except for stops, which can be brutal.
If you want to see some photos of polo, trot over to my Sam's Shot's page!