There are two types of horses that become polo ponies, those bread for polo and those who become polo ponies after a change of career. The majority of polo ponies perhaps, are off the track thoroughbred race horses. Often Thoroughbred race horses are retired between 4 and 8. A small number of thoroughbreds are bred specifically for polo, with some bred, trained, and imported from places such as New Zealand, Ireland, and Argentina. Quarter horses make great arena polo ponies and generally good for 1 chukker on a grass field, but often do not have the same top speed as thoroughbreds and run out of energy on the grass field. There are also a handful of polo ponies that are arabians and other breeds including appendix's (thoroughbred/quarter horse crosses,), and other crosses.
Most polo ponies are mares, or female horses. Geldings have a reputation of being mellow, and mares having characteristics including having an attitude and being more emotional. Geldings can make great polo ponies but the aggressive and strong willed characteristics of mares make them ideal for an intense, hard fought game such as polo. A trained polo pony knows its job very well to the point that they will follow the ball and at times turn as the ball turns, push other horses away from the ball, kick the ball, and attempt to avoid fouls. To train a polo pony takes patience and slow introduction to the game and can take up to a couple years. Most trained polo ponies are 8-20 years old, with some playing into their 20s. Any given year there is at least one polo pony in its 20s playing in the US Open, whereas in most other equestrian disciplines horses at the top level of competition are much younger. Polo is relatively easy on the polo ponies body, with the basic type of work including long distance cardio on a soft grass surface.
Most of the polo ponies at Boston Polo Club are thoroughbred mares that are retired race horses bred in the US. At any time there may be one or two geldings that are another bread breed or have other backgrounds (usually quarter horses.) The ideal polo pony is smart and very relaxed and mellow off the field and aggressive on the field, making great horses for other disciplines including jumping, trail horses, and lesson horses. When not playing polo they are the sweetest pets, and when playing polo they know their job is to win and to protect their rider. The opportunity to experience the power and gentleness of a polo pony is one of the greatest things Boston Polo Club has to offer to the community. We welcome anyone during the games or at other times to pet the ponies, try riding them, and build a relationship with them.