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Protocols 29


Through the combined efforts of some dedicated polo people, some who are no longer with us.  In our new digital age it is now accessible vis a vis Internet.

Protocol 29 origins

After 29 + years as a veteran polo player – often reflected on how difficult it was for a rookie to acquire knowledge on horsemanship. Schools teaching the world’s best game did not exist in the mid 70’s. USPA membership had been dwindling since WWII.  A gentleman named Mack Jason became membership chairman and put some pride back into our great sport.     Today there are some fine professors available – albeit geography as well as economics often makes it tough – it is now time charge ahead - digital style.

Here is a singular attempt to put something “back into the game” which had changed altered much of my life for the better.  
Some wise counsel from Argentina’s Juan Carlos Harriott in the Abierto 1972 –
“Si no puedes hacer otra cosa mientras estas galopando en la cancha de polo intenta pensar”
“if you can’t do anything else while galloping on the polo field -  try thinking”
pledged to that wisdom and my late team captain Mack Jason (1926 - 2011 ) this course of study is dedicated.

Protocol Twenty-Nine
by P.T. Brent for PTF  from Hawaii 29 January 2012


Viewers take notes – seek more knowledge on an ongoing basis

1. It is a game – one that can have an effect on a person’s soul - being a USPA player is a tough road – keep the game in the proper perspective –family and work come first and demand their priority.

2. Learn to ride - be a  “horseman”  –- it’s never too late.  Many polo players do not ride well. Warm your horse up and down before and after each chukker.  Train in both directions/ leads. Use your legs and rear end to control the horse – the reins are not the only apparatus.   The secret of all riding is DWYA * Olympic equestrian trainers force control of the horse by riding bareback without reins in an arena while using their okole (posterior) to drive, stop and turn the horse.   Any worthwhile endeavor dictates at least a passing knowledge of the sport in all related disciplines -- safety, vetting, purchasing a horse, tack, grooming, exercise, diet, tactics, etc. Those who believe polo is only about running around on a polo pony and striking the ball are misguided / perhaps they are overdue for some basic riding instruction.  Ignorance only creates a “loser” but also it will place their well-being and perhaps their life at risk. Some poor riders play and hit the ball well – imagine what they might accomplish if they could ride well.

Remember the character traits you display during the passion of the game may represent your real character... “under stress” much is revealed.
Quotation one worthy of reflection:  “I believe the way a person behaves in the game under pressure is the REAL person.”    —Reuben Gracida 7 goaler Hawaii Polo Club 1989 Mokuleia

4. Because a player is guilty of crossing the LINE does not mean they should be run down or injured.  (remarkable indeed – that this counsel is even necessary)

5. You cannot win or control every play.  Do not risk a foul... go on to the NEXT play.

6. UMPIRING - Speaking of foolishness when a player fouls near goal mouth – it should merit the award of a PENALTY ONE This rule is not in the book for “show” – as an umpire - use it – make it work – it creates a safer attitude. and do you know how to line up – post a penalty one? Review USPA rules once a year.

7. UMPIRING:  - prior to throwing in the game ball  ---- give an emphatic no nonsense warning that ALL fouls will be whistled- set the TONE early and firmly– get their attention.   
Then blow a foul - a real one and EARLY - let all present be alert to your presence - then the profile of the game will be smooth.   Each game has a different character – a flavor -- a tone all established by the umpire EARLY and firmly - makes the officiating job easy when set early – make it rock hard.      --- Wait a day to chat about your foul calls or criticisms with the players - cooler heads will prevail. (plus most will forget)   (offer to write USPA  HQ etc with a smile….)

Use all available accouterments  - bell boots, bandages all four legs, over girths, breakaway stirrups, as well as grooming the horse meticulously – they rate it.  Build a relationship with each pony and be sure they are fun to ride.

9. Play at a level that works for you and pace your horse - pace your self - one cannot run full power for an entire chukker. If your polo is not fun --- change it.

10. Once again -- SAFETY FIRST
Place aside - the fans and the snappy photographs -wear all safety gear -i.e. lightweight elbow pads –you will lose zero movement and will minimize injury. Hawaii’s legendary Bob MacGregor used to say” “ in polo it is not IF you get hurt – it is WHEN you get hurt”  - minimize your level of injury by “thinking”

11. Use face guards - at Eldorado there was a refrain once echoed --- “ it is a club rule that all ‘handsome players’ must wear a face guard”  - Then the USPA Governor would volunteer to secure a waiver for his pals  – much to their chagrin and his rapacious sense of humor.  Wear a face guard –a good one. There is not a ten goaler alive who if playing with a good face guard would not play as well as with out. It is a vanity issue.

12. If you have a ten-dollar head – buy a $10.00 dollar helmet.

13. Wear a quality helmet and face guard – when a helmet has gone through a severe hit /concussion, etc – be sure to replace the lining or better yet purchase a new helmet –the protection is lost in a severe hit.    

14. WHY ?  During the 30 + years of polo I have personal knowledge of seven polo friends being killed on the polo pitch, 4 who lost one eye and two were paralyzed neck down as well as 2 more had partial brain damage – make safety a mandate - for both horse and rider.
Again -- Old chestnut – “ten dollar head – buy a ten dollar helmet”

15. Examine your equipment regularly, repair and upgrade as needed.  – Mahalo Nui Loa from Hawaii Peter Rizzo of USPA fame.

16. Go to the PTF’s videos on POLO encyclopedic media – add it to your digital book, I Phone/ iPod etcetera to use for airplane time / auto time.  Make ongoing education a regular item on your agenda.   Be ahead of those ignorant rascals who believe money is all it takes to be a polo player.  “Knowledge is power.”

17. Hitting cages: Best design, the USPA Mak-Linfoot cage by Judd Mak and Billy Linfoot –not only a super technique on how to improve striking the ball and using the near side without fear, but also a chance to save your pony’s legs. See it here, on this site: Polo Cage

18. Consider a slightly weighted mallet for practice – works for baseball players.

19. NEAR side – When hitting on the near side one must be committed and finished with the strike there is for a moment - a sense of incertitude – namely you are out there.   Practice 90% on the near side – if you are accomplished on the near side you will be hot stuff on the off side--- similar to tennis and other sports – work on the tougher part of striking.   Another hitting tip is a short quick mnemonic to flash on - when approaching the ball
P A S   Position – Arm extension – (spot on the ball). Most hit late – start a touch early … how many penalty shots go off to the right ..?
Positioning is over half the battle – pretty easy to hit well if you and the ball are in the right spot – high goaler can hit from anywhere – others need to think ahead and POSITION – know or ask what is the right spot for each hit – use your leg to position your mount to the shot as early as possible.  Many veteran poloists cannot tell you where the right “ball strike” position is. K Y E O T B
ARM should be way out extended – gives a smoother and farther hit
Spot think of a sweet / small spot on the ball and strike through the ball.

20. Awards – remember your first goal scored in a “real” game? – most rookies never forget it.  Now that you are a veteran poloist focus on proud moments to acknowledge and praise players who achieve a special moment. (Mack Jason always did)

21. The Billy Linfoot Most Improved Player award affords serious USPA recognition and is awarded annually to a select player at each and every club in the association – yet few managers or clubs take the time to recognize their newest polo star. When was last time you club awarded one?

22. Be early – test ride your mounts –discuss with your team mates your game plan – driving your car up at the last second and jumping on your horse is unwise and perhaps dangerous.

23. Conditioning – ride each horse – “Those who lead – lose” ( Billy Linfoot)

24. When you miss the ball, don’t take it out on your horse with whip and spur.  Remember your horse is doing 90% of the work.  

25. Train your horse outside of game time. Excessive use of whip and spur in a game to “train” your horse is not appropriate and should be a foul called by the umpire.    

26. The key to better polo is ANTICIPATION.  Those who anticipate the next play or where the ball will be make the winning plays.  THINK where may I contribute and position my horse early…. “when galloping down the polo field – try thinking” Argentine open –


28. Appealing for fouls - even a weird glance (Hawaiian “Stink Eye”) at the official is a foul and bad form … go on the next play – life and our great game are not perfect.

28. Winston Churchill once said:  “a polo handicap is your Passport to the world” wisely stated - be worthy of it both on and off the polo ground.

29. Long, long ago  - It was once said:
This sport has it all-- Glamour, Style, Danger and Speed.  Have fun - make the most of it  - it is an awesome way of life – play it wisely.


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