Polo Primer: Players & Ponies

Polo at International Polo Club Palm Beach - high-goal polo - 10-goal playersGet the scoop on who to watch with our guide of ten-goalers taking the pitch at International Polo Club Palm Beach this season.


The Teams

All players are rated on a scale of -2 to 10 goals, determined by their strokes, speed of play, team and game sense. The term “goal” does not refer to how many goals a player will or has scored.

Quick cheat: Unlike golf, the higher the handicap, the better the player.

Team play is handicapped on the basis of ability. The team with the lower overall handicap (total of its players’ goal ratings) is awarded the difference in goals at the start of the match.


The Professionals

Want to up your field cred? Name-drop a couple of these 10-goalers:

Adolfo Cambiaso - 10-goal polo players - La Dolfina polo team

Adolfo Cambiaso (Nickname: Dolfi or Adolfito) This Argentine, known as the Tiger Woods of polo, is ranked No. 1 in the world and started his own successful polo team, La Dolfina, in 2000.

Pablo Mac Donough - 10-goal polo player - La Dolfina - International Polo Club Palm Beach

Pablo Mac Donough (Nickname: Guri) The Irish-Argentine is a member of La Dolfina and a cousin of Facundo Pieres.


Facundo Pieres - 10-goal polo player - Ellerstina Polo Team

Facundo Pieres (Nickname: Facu) Pieres’ father, Gonzalo, was a world-class polo player and his brothers, Nicolás (9 goals) and Gonzalito (9 goals), play professionally with him on the Ellerstina Polo Team.


Juan Martin Nero (Nickname: Juanma) Considered to be the best defensive player in the game, Nero plays for La Dolfina and Lechuza Caracas.



Guillermo Caset Jr. (Nickname: Sapo) After being hospitalized for staphylococcus in 2012, Caset made a comeback in the first tournament of the Argentine Triple Crown, scoring six goals.

Photo by Jason Myers

David Streling Jr. - 10-goal polo player at IPC - La Dolfina polo team

David Stirling Jr. (Nickname: Pelon) La Dolfina member Stirling is the only 10-goaler who is not Argentine—he’s from Uruguay.




The Ponies

“A polo pony has got to have the speed of a race horse; the tough, quick response of a cow pony; and the agility of a show jumper. Then he’s got to have more stamina than any of them.” —Cecil Smith,  American 10-goaler (1904-2000)

Polo Pony - A Break down of what makes a great polo pony - International Polo Club Palm BeachOriginally, no horse higher than 13 hands and two inches was allowed to play in the game. (The official definition of a pony is a horse that is fewer than 14.2 hands from hoof to shoulder blade.) Today, there is no height limitation, but the smaller animals are typically faster and more agile.  

Quick cheat: The mounts used in polo are always called polo ponies, even though they are typically full-sized horses.

A player’s horse is always changed at the end of each chukker to avoid fatigue and injury to the pony. Therefore, a player will have a “string” of ponies—two or three in low-goal matches, four or more in medium-goal matches and closer to a dozen for competition play in which the ponies may be switched as often as every few minutes to keep momentum going.



For more of our polo guide, from dress code and traditions to the rules and regulations, click here.

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