Your Riding Is What Is Holding You Back

pep talks riding Oct 17, 2020

I wanted to quickly chat to you about your riding.

Because to be honest the thing that holds most people back when they are playing polo from really progressing, is how they ride.

Your Riding Is What Is Holding You Back


Well, good morning guys. I'm just outside the block of stables here at Kings Polo in Egypt, and it's looking a little bit like a construction site at the moment but I can assure you it's going to be the most amazing place.

Here behind me you can see the boom that will be a hose coming over this wash Bay, that we're creating for the horses. It's actually a really nice wash Bay. You can see down here that there's a trough, and the tethering line here that the horses will be tied to.

(Here's) The wash bay itself and there are 4 of these that do six horses, so after exercise we can get the horses in here and wash them off quite quickly. But just showing you this beautiful place and being around these amazing creatures...

What I wanted to just chat to you about quickly is your riding. Because to be honest the thing that holds most people back when they are playing polo from really progressing is how they ride.

Because it goes to so many points you know often you're riding horses that are better than you think they are. And they only where they are at that level because of how you ride, and somebody else comes and rides those horses that is a better rider than you and you suddenly find that the horses actually improved. So, you are the limiting factor.

And to be honest, when I was a child we had the Peruvian polo team come and visit, and we were very fortunate that the club was on the farm and I grew up  in a club that was really playing good polo at that point.

Club practices were 22 goal practices. But I was fortunate to have a lovely string of horses and I had a horse that was at the bottom of my string.

And Max Pena, who was an 8 Goal player, took my string -- you know, we all had to put forward horses and he really enjoyed the horse, you know. And he wanted to double chukka it, and all that kind of stuff.

And by the time I got the horse back, it was a totally different horse, and one that I really enjoyed and was now at the top of my string.

So, riding is such an important part of it and if I think of somebody like Memo Grasida for example, let's take him as an example, 10 Goals going for riding lessons every single week.

And I've been so fortunate, and working with a 7 goaler Chris Mackenzie, last year in December, and he got me down there for a whole month just to work on his riding and we changed his foot position and that kind of stuff a little bit, and at the end of the first day he said to me, "Gavin I feel like somebody's cut my foot off, I can feel it."

And anyway, we progressed from there, and after a week I said Chris go back and ride how you were riding and he says "oh, I can't ride like this." So it was really an interesting exercise and he's really enjoyed the results of that.

So just be sure that your riding is not the factor that's inhibiting you going forwards. And often it's a lot more helpful for you, if you are a weaker Rider, to get somebody to school your horses every now and then, and to play them a chukka every now and then, okay. Just to keep them honest and keep them going well.

We run an Academy here, and all my Academy horses I take and I personally school or get one of the pros here to go and stick and ball the horse, and play a chukka, just to get it back into the good habits.

But be sure that your riding is not what is inhibiting you because what's really important is to learn to ride with strong legs, because that will give you gentle hands. And what you need to do, in my opinion, is often take your saddle away, and put a sheepskin in its place.

We have a nice padded sheepskin that we put an over girth on so that you can still use your martingale and running reins, and all of the rest and we make you ride without a saddle. And even stick-and-ball without a saddle, to be honest, because that really builds your legs up.

So don't be scared to regress, and do those kind of things, and also don't be too proud to go and get riding lessons. So I really hope that hammers that message home, and from me here at Kings Polo, a hearty goodbye, and I hope this has helped... and see you in the next lesson.