Sunday, September 16, 2012

Polo at URI - Cornell vs. Harvard

I went to college at the University of Rhode Island and then worked there for four years full-time. If someone asked me what the school is most insane about, I'd say their athletic fields. They are so hard core about the grass on that campus and they even have turf management as a major! Sod farming is one of Rhode Island's main industries and anyone with nice turf around here would have a cow if you tried to ride a horse on it.

That is why I was SHOCKED to hear that URI was hosting a polo match. They were actually going to allow horses to run around on one of their precious fields and rip the turf up. Of course I had to go, so I bought tickets for myself, Kenny, and a few friends and we went to watch the match yesterday.

The other matches we've been to were professional players in Newport RI. I wasn't quite prepared for the stark differences between a professional match and a college match, but the riding yesterday was absolutely terrible. The whole thing was very unorganized, the announcer didn't know what he was supposed to say and you could hear someone feeding him lines in the background, and one of the horses sustained a horrible injury when a player accidentally hit another players horse in its eye with the mallet. AWFUL. The police officers at the game knew me from my days working at URI, and knew I had a horse. They came over and asked me if I knew of any vets in the area because the people who brought the polo horses were from out-of-state and they had no idea what vets were in Rhode Island. I gave them my vet's number and luckily there was a vet just 15 minutes away. I hope the horse is ok. It sounded like a very bad injury - the eye was filling up with blood within minutes of the initial injury.

Lauren and her boyfriend came with us and at one point, her boyfriend said he thought Lucy might be a good polo horse. I can say with certainty that even if she would make a good polo horse, I'd never let her be one! They all looked miserable.

Here are some photos.

I mean, come on...
At one point, this rider hauled so hard on his horses face that he pushed
the saddle forward onto the horses neck and had to get off the horse to
readjust his tack.

Cairo had a nice time sunbathing and getting lots of attention.


  1. This is a really sad and disconcerting post... we're an hour south of Cornell, and their large animal veterinary clinic is our go-to spot for horses in need. To think of the team not traveling with a vet (or vet student) blows my mind...hope the horse makes out okay.

    As for the bad riding, ugh. :-(

    1. They may not have brought the horses. The horse trailers had MA and NH plates so I am guessing Harvard supplied the horses. STILL, I agree that they should have brought a vet or at least known ahead of time who to call in an emergency. They were very lucky a vet was so close on a Saturday.

  2. These photos PAIN me. Ow. How could anyone be so callous and disrespectful to such forgiving animals? Yeesh.
    I hope the injured horse is doing well.

  3. I know that every sport has its bad ones, but I have never liked watching Polo or even checking out pictures. It always seems like the horses have a ton of tack on, nasty bits, and riders with heavy hands and big spurs.

  4. That's too bad. I've only been to a couple of polo matches and they were super fun. Mostly excellent horsemen who took good care of their mounts and the horses seemed to love the game as much as the riders.

  5. I worked briefly with a retired polo horse. Her tongue had literally been ripped in half by the bit (or rather, riders who were abusing the bit). I think at the elite level there are good riders who treat their horses well ... but at the grassroots level there is often scary riding and ignorant horsemanship.

  6. Several equine ophthalmologists that I've hung out with have said that the worst eye injuries they see are from polo games. =-( Poor pony... I think I would have had a hard time watching the whole game.

  7. Oh, this makes me so sad. Poor horses!

  8. This is sad. :(

    I did two weeks work experience at a polo place and the horses were super happy, LOVED stick and balling (where you knock a ball around) and were sane enough to put a near beginner on.

    I would ride one, pony 4 or 5 other horses and trot/canter around the track, 2 or 3 sets of horses a morning. They were all saints and never put a foot wrong.

    On the weekend, they played polo and those horses loved the game. When you knock a ball they chase it like a dog and near stop themselves at the ball so you can hit it again.

    Must have been a really well run, humane polo club. I thought they were all like that.

  9. OUCH for that poor horse's face/tongue and the other one that dealt with an eye injury! Seems there are always people doing a sport wrong and you captured that at this match.

  10. I played polo in college and in my experience the mens teams really rode the shit out of the horses. it's totally unnecessary but the umpiring doesn't lend itself to stopping this kind of behavior. you're not supposed to full swing in traffic because chances are YOU WILL HIT A HORSE IN THE FACE.

    but try not to take all polo like this. most people take excellent care of their ponies and the horses genuinely love it. and all the tack is because it's hard to get a horse to stop on a dime from a full gallop in the middle of play.

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