itchy feet for the start of polo season
Normally at this time of year, when the daylight hours start to contract and there is a razor-sharp crispness to the air, signifies the start of polo season (in Queensland, Australia we play polo throughout the winter months). My morning ritual begins with a dawn awakening, letting Harry Noodle (kelpie x cattle dog) off the chain, cocooned in a woollen vest, halter in hand to catch one of my mares for morning work. There is nothing quite like starting a day with a ride, saddling up in darkness and welcoming the sun with a series of thundering canters up the pea-green hills that are slackened with dew. The steam and warmth of your sweating horse chasing the frigid cold away. Albeit, this year I’m not bounding out of bed to work my polo ponies, but rolling out of bed with a audible groan since I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant.
So since I can’t ride for the time being as I’m busy being a human incubator, I thought I would introduce you to my polo mares who haven’t been worked for over 6 months now and have rather swollen, rotund bellies – like myself!
Tilly was my first horse that I ever purchased with my own money. Growing up on our cotton property, my father was a firm believer that we didn’t have our ‘own’ horse but shared them with my other siblings. She’s a thoroughbred mare who failed her barrier trials, so her life as a racehorse was quickly aborted. She’s 15.2hh’s a perfect size for a polo mare. She’s an incredibly intelligent mare who not only shines on the polo field, but is a great jumper.
Arusi (means wedding in swahili), also known as piglet or pocket rocket, is also a full thoroughbred mare but is often mistaken for a quarter-horse due to her voluptuous rear end. Fortunately for me, she measures under 15hh’s so she’s too small for a lot of male polo players hence she was affordable to purchase. She’s an absolute machine on the polo field and will ride-off the bigger horses on the field without a second glance. And that voluptuous bottom gives her an incredible turn of speed.
Jinx is the first Australian Stock Horse that I’ve owned and she has exceptional breeding. The plan is to put the three mares in foal at a later date. Jinx had her first polo season last year and she’s taken to the sport of kings extremely well. She’s a very mellow mare, nothing seems to faze her and she cuts a fine silhouette on the polo field due to her gun-metal grey colouring. This will be her second season and I think she’ll come into her own.
Washing down the girls after a home tournament at our fields on the outskirts of Gympie in the Mary Valley, Queensland.
photos by steven pilcher