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Youth in Action: Polo Ponies

Young horsemen take their American Quarter Horses for a spin in a sport that the breed excels in.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal
December 2, 2013

Polo Pony

While Mischiefs Last Roll (pictured) wasn't playing at the 2013 Texas Invitational Junior Polo Tournament, she is an American Quarter Horse that has become a decorated polo horse. (Photo courtesy of American Polo Horse Association)

Sure, galloping around an arena in a reining pattern or even across wide-open ranching country is a thrill. Or maybe even feeling the ground reverberate as the world’s fastest horse over a quarter of a mile pounds down the homestretch right in front of you.

But what about sitting astride your horse and having a ball fly at you at a speed of 110 mph? In polo, imagine yourself racing over a field, mallet in hand, along with seven other riders and their American Quarter Horses. Talk about a rush.

As it would happen, the American Quarter Horse is the preferred mount for many a polo player. And the exciting sport of polo isn’t just for aged competitors; Youth can join in on the fun, too.

Sixty-two enthusiastic young polo players did just that this past summer at the 2013 Texas Invitational Junior Polo Tournament, which was part of the U.S. Polo Association National Youth Tournament Series. At the June 8-10 tournament in Houston, the players displayed impressive horsemanship and mallet skills in four levels of competition, with players traveling from as far away as Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Guatemala.  

To celebrate the versatility of its breed and as part of its alliance with the American Polo Horse Association, AQHA recognized the best-playing American Quarter Horse in each of the four tournament divisions.

Winning the best-playing horse award for the advanced division was Tronas Girl, ridden by Kendall Plank of Houston. What’s surprising about Tronas Girl, a 10-year-old sorrel mare, is that she was bred to be a cutting horse and even enjoyed a career doing that. By Little Trona and out of Quixotes Cowgirl by Doc Quixote, Tronas Girl traces back to American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame sires Freckles Playboy, Three Bars (TB) and Peppy San.

Another cutting-bred horse that has taken on polo skills is Quarter Moon Cat, owned and played on by Grace Rose Mudra of Cat Spring, Texas. The 6-year-old sorrel gelding won the AQHA intermediate award. A son of Cats Moonshine and out of Holly Biltoft by Tamulena, Quarter Moon Cat sports some big-name ancestors, as well, including High Brow Cat, Genuine Doc, Doc O’Lena and Poco Tivio.  

The great thing about the Texas Invitational Junior Polo Tournament is it’s not an event that mandates that horses and riders must go fast. The tournament even boasted walk-trot and leadline divisions.

With Emma Vargas of Fulshear, Texas, in the saddle Our Little Maggiemay, a 6-year-old sorrel mare, won the AQHA walk-trot award. Our Little Maggiemay, by Buenos Shadow and out of Big Bee Rich by Beaus Royal Skipador, traces back to American Quarter Horse greats such as Poco Bueno, Blue Valentine, Coy’s Bonanza and Mr Bar None.  

Twelve youngsters participated in the leadline class and enjoyed relay-type races, hitting the ball from horseback.

Rounding out the AQHA awards was leadline winner Law Mans King Of Mt, ridden to the win by Ace Outhier, who was led by his mother. Law Mans King Of Mt is actually a barrel horse belonging to Ace’s big sister, AQHYA member Madison Outhier, and the Outhiers hail from Utopia, Texas. The 16-year-old sorrel gelding is a son of Utopia Law Man and out of Kendras Cat by Sound Move. He, too, boasts great bloodlines, such as Sir Quincy Dan, Three Bars (TB) and Joe Reed II.

Does polo sound like a sport you and your American Quarter Horse might like to try? The American Polo Horse Association is an AQHA alliance partner and is here to help guide you through the sport of polo. To get started in polo, an event the American Quarter Horse excels at, visit www.americanpolohorse.com.

Opportunities abound for horse-interested kids and a new AQHYA blog, Youth in Action, is going to chronicle those ventures. Learn more about the endless prospects for young horsemen through AQHYA at www.aqha.com/youth-in-action.