Polo is a very popular, albeit expensive, sport that is usually played outside on a large field about the size of 9 or 10 football fields. Since it is played outdoors, you may be wondering, can polo be played in the rain? As a general rule, polo cannot be played on a wet field and therefore, most polo matches are cancelled if it is raining.
Playing on a wet field is dangerous for both the rider and the horse, which is why most polo matches will be rescheduled – usually for the very next day – either if it is raining that day or if it rained the day before and the field is still very wet.
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Why Is Playing on a Wet Field So Dangerous?
When deciding on whether or not to play polo in inclement weather, most experts base the decision on how wet the field is. Although many polo players, including many in Great Britain, will play in the rain, if it is raining too much and the field is going to become wet, the matches are usually cancelled.
In other words, it’s the wetness of the field that matters more than the rain itself. Wet fields are dangerous for the horse and for the rider, and there are numerous reasons for this.
First of all, polo involves lots of sharp, quick turns and lots of fast running, all of which can be very difficult to do when the field is wet or muddy. If you’ve ever had to walk through a wet or muddy field, you know what we’re talking about.
Not only does it become much more difficult to walk, wade, or run through the field, but it also increases the likelihood that you’re going to slip and fall, which presents enough obstacles all by itself.
Playing polo on a wet field means there is a much better chance of the horse falling to the ground, which can result in sprained muscles or even broken bones for either the horse itself or the rider. In polo, this is not something anyone wants to deal with, which is why polo matches are almost always cancelled when the field is wet.
But there are other reasons as well. One of the most important reasons is that horses cannot stand in wet conditions for very long because this greatly increases their chance of getting various skin irritations and even infections in their hooves or legs, which is not something to look forward to.
Although you can treat these conditions, it is much easier for everyone involved not to have to deal with them in the first place, which is another reason why polo games are cancelled when wet fields are present.
Another scenario, which isn’t a huge risk in polo games but something to consider anyway, is that if the horses eat the wet grass, they can get colic, specifically, spasmodic colic. This is because once the grass becomes too wet and then gets into the horse’s stomach and digestive tract, it can actually start to ferment, which is the main reason for the colic.
What to Look for If the Forecast Calls for Rain
If you have a polo match scheduled and it looks like it’s going to rain, there are many things to consider when it comes to your horse’s safety. First of all, a lot of your decisions will depend on the severity of the rain.
In other words, if the rain is very light and consistent, it’s likely that keeping your horse outside for short periods of time won’t cause it any harm. However, if a downpour is expected, the horse should never be subjected to those conditions. The horse needs to be put inside of a barn or covered with a waterproof sheet as soon as possible.
First of all, wet weather can result in fungus, hoof infections, and even chronic skin conditions such as mud fever or rain rot. If your horse spends a lot of time in these situations, it can develop some very painful medical conditions, some of which are even contagious. In addition, rainy weather can result in the horse catching a chill, especially if the temperatures start to get lower once the rain starts.
Again, most polo matches will be cancelled if a downpour is expected because very wet and muddy fields are never a good thing for horses, let alone the riders.
The riders, however, can leave the area once they realize how dangerous the fields are. Horses depend on us to take them out of a dangerous situation such as this, which is why it is so important to do so immediately.
Is Polo a Dangerous Sport for Horses?
Because of weather conditions such as downpours and rumors that are constantly being spread about the sport of polo, many people think that polo ponies are mistreated, but that is far from the case.
That being said, there are some potential dangers for the horses during the game of polo, including horses that can accidentally run into one another on the field, which can cause at least one of them to fall. In addition, horses can get hit by the mallets because the game is so fast-paced.
All in all, though, polo ponies suffer fewer injuries than you might think, and there are several reasons for this. Remember, horses are not just taken from a farm and made to become polo horses.
Indeed, it takes years of training before they are used for polo matches. Before they go out there the very first time, they have been very well-trained in all aspects of the game, which means they are more than ready for what lies ahead.
You also have to keep in mind that during the course of a polo match, the horses are continually being cared for and monitored. They are given the best feed, supplements, and electrolytes, and there are trained professionals assigned to keep an eye on them throughout the match. This means they are checked on all day long and their needs are immediately met every time.
In addition, their water supply is always full, they are bathed and groomed every day, they are exercised, and most importantly, their bodies are consistently checked to make sure there are no issues that need to be addressed.
Since polo ponies are usually thoroughbreds or thoroughbred crosses, they are made to be out on the field staying active, so they truly enjoy the game of polo. You should also keep in mind that polo is a very family-oriented sport, so the care of these animals is a top priority for everyone involved.
Because of all this, if you hear of mistreatment of the horses during polo, just know that it is a myth. The horses are, in fact, very well taken care of, which is one of the reasons why you will never see horses out there playing when the field is wet and muddy or if it is pouring down rain.
Considering all of these things, as well as the fact that the horses don’t play for long periods of time in a game because they are only allowed to play for short periods of time, makes you realize why polo ponies are some of the best-treated horses of any sport around today.