The sport of polo has long been called a rich man’s sport, but many people in recent years have attempted to make the sport a little less expensive so that even kids can play. But have those people succeeded? By most accounts, it really depends on whether you’re a rider or a sponsor, but one thing’s for sure – the costs of playing polo are going up significantly each and every year.
So how much does it cost to play polo? Regular care of the ponies can cost $5,000 per month; tournaments can run from $3,500 to $150,000 each; and if you want to sponsor a polo team in a tournament, it can cost between $300,000 and $1,000,000. So as you can see, this is not an inexpensive sport to participate in.
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What Makes Polo Such an Expensive Sport?
With polo, a lot of things go into these prices, and there are indeed many different aspects of playing in a sport like polo. Some of those aspects include:
- The purchase of elite horses, not to mention regular maintenance and training of the horses, plus the traveling costs of going from tournament to tournament.
- The purchase of four horses, on average, per player so that you can substitute tired horses during play.
- Regular exercises that often require two grooms at $2,500 each and every month.
Another thing to take into consideration is the medical expenses that are almost always needed, thanks to the fact that there is always a high rate of injuries that involves vet care and even hospitalization.
This is also the reason why, when you’re trying to estimate how much money you’ll be spending to participate in the sport of polo, you can establish estimates but not actual dollar amounts since each player will spend a different amount of money participating in polo matches.
What Can You Do to Make it Less Expensive to Play Polo?
If you decide you’d like to try out the sport of polo so you can test out the waters, so to speak, and decide for yourself if you can afford to be a regular participant, many polo clubs have lessons you can take that are led by experts who can answer all of your questions as the lessons progress. These lessons can run as low as $45 each, and they are usually held weekly, meaning you can take the lessons for roughly $180 per month.
The good thing about the lessons is that players of all levels can join in on them. This means that whether you’re brand new to the sport or have played a little but wish to learn more, you can be accommodated and you’ll feel at home taking the lessons.
There are other ways you can enjoy playing polo without spending all of the money that’s involved in forming a team and competing – in other words, when you just want to play casually and save some bucks.
Many polo clubs allow “grassroots” memberships that cost from $400 to $500 per season, as compared to thousands of dollars per season for the standard memberships. Of course, you’ll have to look around for these because not all organizations offer them.
What About the Horse?
If you’re going to play polo, you’ll need a horse (duh!), but if you’re playing casually or just learning, you don’t have to rush out and purchase the most expensive horse out there.
Indeed, many polo enthusiasts buy older ex-high goal horses since they aren’t going to be playing professionally. Even though you’ll still have the general costs associated with the care and maintenance of a horse, you still may be able to utilize DIY livery at a club, which usually runs around $30 per week on average.
If you have your own horse, you can often play half slots in a tournament along with another player. This usually involves sharing the four chukkas between you. This way, the costs are split and you can end up playing polo for roughly $230 per month. But what if you don’t want the expense and hassle of buying your own horse? Well, you still have options.
Some of these grassroots memberships will “lease” you a horse to play polo, which is extremely convenient for casual players because you don’t have the regular expense of taking care of the animal. Rates for this vary but some polo clubs charge roughly $150 per chukker in an outdoor arena and $250 per chukker if you’re playing on a grass field.
Some clubs require a minimum of two chukkers if you choose this option, so you’ll want to make sure you’re clear on that before you agree to anything. In fact, when you’re researching polo clubs, it’s best to research them thoroughly. Prices for each club vary somewhat, and you’ll want to make sure you understand what you get in return before you sign up for anything.
The best part about leasing the horse is that there is no long-term commitment on your part, and there is also no upkeep for the horse because you’ll just be returning the horse to the club every time you’re done.
When you think about it, this is the ideal scenario for people who aren’t sure they want to stick with playing polo or for those who just like to play casually. That’s why so many polo clubs offer this option. It’s a money-maker for them and a huge convenience for the player, so it’s a win-win situation.
This “a la carte” option is great for nonprofessional polo players, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t be paying a lot of money for the privilege of being able to play this great sport. Regardless of your goal, playing polo is never going to be inexpensive, but if you love the sport and want it to be a part of your life, these less-expensive options are definitely the way to go.
Polo: Not Just for the Wealthy
Polo has been around since the 6th century B.C. and was started in Iran. Because of the type of people who generally play polo – including British royalty – it has been thought of as a sport for the wealthy, and even though that isn’t entirely true today, polo will likely always be a sport that is a bit on the pricy side.
In places such as India today, it can cost around $1,000 to get trained by a polo professional, and in other places it is even higher, so it’s easy to understand why people get this impression about the sport.
One of the reasons it is such a costly sport is that many people do not know how to ride a horse, and since polo involves hitting a plastic ball around while riding on a horse, lessons have to start by teaching you how to do that.
Like other aspects of polo, it takes a lot of money and time just to learn to ride a horse. On average, it can take roughly six years to learn how to control your horse and hit the ball at the same time. When you first get started with your training, it can take six to seven months just to get the right muscles in shape so that you can get the right balance while playing the game.
Why mention all of these things? Because all of these things take time to master, as well as plenty of money. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to be trained by a layperson; you’re going to be trained by a professional polo player, and this costs money, as does all other aspects of this amazing sport.
Another thing that adds expense to this hobby is the fact that you will likely be traveling a lot because tournaments can be held just about anywhere. Traveling can be expensive because you’ll need to pay for transportation to get to your destination, as well as hotel bills and meals.
In other words, all of the expenses associated with the sport of polo add up – and they add up quickly, which is why this hobby will never be considered an inexpensive one.
Polo has always been, and probably always will be considered the sport of royalty. Many professionals play polo, but that isn’t the only reason the game is on the expensive side.
The equipment, the lessons, and most importantly, the purchase and upkeep of several horses, all add up quickly and create expenses that you wouldn’t have without participating in this sport, making this a hobby you could conceivably spend tens of thousands of dollars on each and every year.
If you’re interested in playing polo either professionally or as a casual player, you’ll certainly need to shop around and compare prices, because each polo club can have prices that vary greatly from one club to another.
One thing is certain, though – polo will never be an inexpensive sport because even if you’re only spending a few thousand dollars per month to satisfy your hobby, that is still much more than most other sporting hobbies cost, and you’ll have to pay this every month for as long as you’re playing polo.