In any equestrian sport the grooming part is very essential. Horse owners often think of grooming as an either tedious task or a lovely way of bonding with their horse, this of course depends on whether we are talking about mucking out stalls or giving our equine friends a bath and a brush.
Taking care of horses is a lot of work, between cleaning, feeding and training a whole day goes by, now multiply that with 30 horses and it is clear to see that the grooms at Polo Valley have lots of work to do, luckily they are 4 grooms to share the workload.
The day starts at 7, with the first round of feeding, then around 8 o’clock the horses are taken out to the outdoor pens, so the grooms can clean the stalls.
Santi, the head groom, liaises with Alvaro, the polo manager, about how many guests and clients are coming that day, if they are doing stick and ball or chukkers and their level, to then determine which horses will be working that day. The remaining horses get exercised by the grooms throughout the day.
By 9 o’clock the first horses are prepared for lessons or stick and ball which is usually at 9:30-10:30 am. Before a horse goes out to the stick and ball field the grooms take them for a little spin around the arena, to make sure they are all fit and safe to ride.
Santi also trains the new young horses, teaching them how to play polo, working on them almost every day and always reassessing according to the horse and how they learn. It can take up to 2 or 3 years from when a young horse arrives until it is ready to be ridden by a guest and play chukkers.
By 12 o’clock it is time for feeding again and a bit of rest for the ponies. In the summer months especially with the high temperatures, they need to be in shaded and airy spaces.
The walking pen is for the horses that are either recovering from injuries, or if they have been working hard and need a little break, but still need some exercise.
Throughout the afternoon the grooms are constantly checking on the horses to see that they are all fit and healthy, they know the horses so well, that they can spot something wrong out of the corner of their eyes and take immediate action to prevent bigger issues. They are also constantly cleaning, everything from tack, to stall to polishing polo boots and washing helmets.
Most days guests play chukkers in the afternoon, so by 5:30 pm the grooms get started on preparing horses for chukkers and again make sure they are all fit and ready to play.
By 8 pm it is time for dinner and the day is over for the ponies. On a field nearby are the horses which are on holiday, so they are having a total break for a few weeks or a month. The grooms check on them in the morning and the evening and take extra food for them and make sure they have fresh clean water.
After a final round of all the stalls and cleaning everything, the work day is over. This is when the guys go ride their own horses, showing true equine passion.
Learn the ropes at Polo Valley, get in in touch by calling 0203 651 1965 or visit the website.