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La Low Goal November

Chukka Wellness Top Tips on fitness for polo

University Polo University season in full swing

Husk La Irenita Boots The story behind them

Opinion Article Winter Feeding Tips

Ignacio Llorente Handicapping Issues

Club Introduction Westcroft Park Polo Club

Henry Brett Top Tips on making young horses


Get Involved

Looking for Contributors Could you write us an article? Tell us about yourself, your horses, your club, etc and get featured!

This Month… Ignacio Fernández Llorente: Handicapping Issues

Welcome The arena season is in full swing, in all it’s freezing, muddy glory. Many of you, perhaps sensibly, will have packed up for the year, but the hardier of you will be brave soldiering on into the depths of winter. Here at La Low Goal, we are firmly in the second camp, and will strive to keep reporting throughout the winter season. We need you to get on board though, as we depend entirely on voluntary contributors for our content, and simply cannot function without them. La Low Goal is your magazine, where you get the opportunity to promote yourself, tell the low goal community about upcoming games and spread the word nationwide. We are interested in any polo related content, whether you passionate about breeding, playing on holiday or just keen to get your name out there, we are more than happy to oblige. And its never being easier to get yourself included, even if you simply haven't the time to write a full article, you can always send us a picture using the hashtag #lalowgoal on Facebook and Instagram and get yourself inside. We look forward to seeing what you're all up to. Enjoy the issue. Connor Kay (editor)

Club Introduction: Westcroft Park Polo Club

Opinion Article: Winter Feeding

University Polo

In this Issue University Polo. Jess Roche writes about the latest going ons in the Uni Polo community

The story of the hotly anticipated HUSK La Irenita boots

Chukka Wellness: top tips on fitness for polo Henry Brett: former England 8 goaler, on making young horses

Contents: Page 4 Page 7

Ignacio Llorente

Opinion Article

How to fix the handicapping issues worldwide

Top Tips for winter feeding

Page 11 Westcroft Park Polo Club

Page 13

Page 17

Henry Brett

The story behind the hotly anticipated boots

HUSK La Irenita

Page 22 University Polo Latest news from the world of University polo

POLO HANDICAPPING Ignacio Fernåndez Llorente (POLO IN) For many years we have talked about the shortcomings of the polo handicap system. All players can surely not have the same handicap when some are on the rise and others are stuck at a particular handicap, or even on a decline. Currently we find there are a lot of players who have the same handicap but are actually playing at very different levels. There are three major faults that the handicap has: 1)The handicap scale is relatively short (10 or 12 levels depending on the country in which you play) which doesn't allow the differences in player’s abilities to be reflected in their handicaps. In golf many years ago, the maximum handicap was 24, but it was extended to 36 for precisely this reason. The big problems are accentuated in the 10 handicap and the low goal range (0-2). In the last 2 years there have been 2 10 goalers winning almost all the high profile tournaments, surely making them under handicapped, and worth more than their 10 goal status. In the low handicaps, players off the same handicap show large variances in their skill. There can be several reasons for this: a) A player had a brilliant season in the past and was increased in handicap, and has never been dropped back down again. b) The player raised it to keep motivated. c) The player asked to raise their handicap but did not deserve it. d) A young player played many tournaments and his level grew quickly before a rise in handicap could be implemented. e) The player asked to be dropped down when it did not correspond to their actually level of play. f) The lowest handicap levels are seen as offensive for many and those who evaluate the handicaps avoid these conflicts with players. g) The handicap is a title that certain players want to reach regardless of whether it is real/reflective or not 2) Many players are worth different handicaps when playing different level games. Some people will play better in low goal, and then should be worth a higher handicap, but they don't live up to this higher handicap in higher level tournaments. This can cause the player to be under handicapped at low goal, making games unfair for the opposition, while the player struggles for higher level games, as they are not worth their handicap there. 3) In some countries such as Argentina, negative handicaps are not used at all, reducing the handicap scale further and exacerbating the problem of too much differentiation between the handicap levels. Removing the negative handicap makes it impossible to have negative handicap or handicap zero tournaments.

Recently women complained that organising tournaments was very complicated especially in Argentina, where all women had 0 handicaps, with some exceptions that had 1 or 2. At the international level there were players of -2, and up to 4 of handicap . What was done was to enlarge the scale, and make the conversion according to an equivalence table to start and then it was calibrated. The best player happened to have 10 women's handicap. The female handicap is a success. On more than one occasion I received the query that it could be done in low handicap tournaments to make them more even. Except for some exceptions, it can be said that an amateur player (plays fun polo on weekends), has between -2 and 2 handicaps. That is, the maximum difference is 4, but we all know that the variance within these levels can be greater. In countries like Argentina there is no -1 and -2 so the problem is greater. The amateur polo urgently needs a handicap of its own, where the differences between the players can be shown more clearly and in this way the teams are more even. In Argentina there are tournaments for amateur players up to 2 handicap, and they have the same problem that women had previously. Argentina is about to launch an Amateur handicap, for these type of tournaments. Then in principle a 0 handicap player would happen to have an amateur level 3 handicap, the 1 would go to 6, and 2 to 9 etc. After a season the handicaps would begin to be adjusted to reflect reality. Excellent! Will the USPA and HPA want to follow the Argentinian amateur handicapping system?

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The single most important factor to remember when feeding ponies during winter, regardless of wether they are in work or not, is to include a lot of fibre in their diet. Horses have adapted over the ages to obtain their nutritional requirements from the digestion of grass. They are trickle eaters, meaning they are required to keep eating for large periods of the day. This keeps the gastrointestinal tract full, avoiding any complications that could occur when it becomes empty and loose such as colic or ulcers. Providing plenty of fibre, such as hay or haylage also helps to keep the horses warm during the cold weather

Winter F

periods, as it digests in the digestive tract, producing heat in the process. During winter when very little grass is available for grazing, and the remaining cover has very little nutritional value it is important to provide this fibre in the form of haylage or hay, wether it be in piles outside or in hay nets or racks when stabled. This way the horse can retain its natural trickle grazing habits throughout the year. Some older horses may struggle with chewing long fibres (hay and haylage) due to dental problems. Where these dental issues are diagnosed short fibre sources may be a suitable alternative to ensure your horse can maintain consuming the required amounts of fibre. Grass or grass


replacements such as chop, readigrass, alfalfa and fibre mashes can all help your horse reach it’s required fibre intake without having to chew excessivley. Proportions of both hard foods and fibres should be calculated individually due to a horses condition. Naturally some horses will be a “good doer� and others not so much. This means in order to maintain adequate weight some horses will require different amounts of food to one another. When turned out in a herd hay needs to be spread out in a number of piles to ensure that even the less dominant horses receive an adequate amount of food. This is obviously much easier to control when

horses are stabled, but the hard feed rations and the amount of haylage fed often need to be re-evaluated depending on the condition of the horse. Commonly people believe older horses require more food to maintain the same weight, however it is recommendable to continue feeding depending on condition throughout their senior years, as throughout their lives. The commonly accepted figure is of approximately 1.5% of horses body weight should be fed in dry matter daily. For example, a horse weighing 500kg would require 7.5kg of hay per day to ensure they receive adequate adequate vitamins and minerals to maintain their weight. As stated above this should always be seen

as a guideline and adapted to suit each horses individual requirements. A further consideration is the quality of the hay or haulage being provided as this can vary considerably, and the nutritional values of the hay can be altered due to growth conditions before harvesting, drying, storage and land quality when the crop was grown. The only definative way to understand the quality of the fibre you are feeding is to have it analized. This will then allow you to determine if there are any deficiencies that you can identify and then you are in a position to balance this omission by the use of supplements or hard feed.

Looking for Contributors Could you write us an article? Tell us about yourself, your horses, your club, etc and get featured!

Westcroft Par Nestled in the beautiful Surrey countryside near, 45 minutes from Central London , lies Westcroft Park Polo Club and Polo Academy. The club boasts three full sized, boarded polo fields and 2 stick and ball fields. However, Polo is not all that we do here, our open parkland setting allows us to offer a huge range of outdoor activities for corporate team building, corporate hospitality, stag and hen do’s and private events.

We are the largest commercial polo arena in Europe, which plays host to the 4 nation’s cup and is now part of the England polo team’s winter international test series along with the Ladies National Championships in spring and summer. Westcroft Park is also the only polo arena in the London area with its own clubhouse to overlook it. With an in built sound system, break out areas and floodlit arena our venue is fully equipped to cater for every event. A unique clubhouse has two storeys and in cooler climes, is a place to shelter from the cold, and fuel your fires with its own Bar and Grill. In the summer the Asado fires roar and the champagne flows into the warm balmy summer evenings to the soundtrack of thundering hooves.

rk Polo Club We welcome non-riders – about 65% of those we teach have never ridden before – and we provide all the necessary equipment, including specially trained (and understanding!) ponies. Our learn to play polo experiences are 2 hour sessions at the end of which new players have played their first chukka! 
 Our exclusive top and tailed corporate polo entertainment packages with bespoke event catering offer unique and exhilarating opportunities for both client entertainment and corporate team building. Team building events are structured in collaboration with Claire Griffiths, the British Wheelchair Basket Ball Player who has represented Great Britain in 5 Paralympic Games and has 15 years’ experience supporting board level management at leading FTSE/ Fortune 100 Global Corporations. All corporate experiences are tailored precisely for your company and your requirements.



Henry Brett, former 8 goaler and first man to captain an English side to victory over Argentina on home soil, talks to us about breeding, retraining for polo, and how making ponies has affected his career. 1. Where do you source your young horses from? I have sourced young horses from France , Ireland , Scotland , Wales and England through private sellers and auctions 2. What specific traits/ personality/ conformation do you look for in a young horse? A thoroughbred that looks like a polo pony is a good start! A short back, not too long in the neck and a calm temperament . The temperament is key ,the pony needs to be able to handle the pressure when playing. 3. Are there set stages of training you take each young horse through, and if so can you outline these? If the pony is unbroken we start with a lot of ground work . Gabriel Santos (my breaker) does most of this and is very good at it . Once he has the horse's trust it makes backing them a lot easier . A lot depends on each horse, but after a few weeks of riding we start to hit a ball off them to prepare them for young horse chukkas.

4. Is breeding or retraining your passion and why? I think breeding can give great results if you get the right bloodlines but it takes a long time and costs a lot when you go down the embryo route. I prefer to make thoroughbreds that show early on they have a natural ability on the polo field. It takes half the time and is nowhere near as expensive. It’s not easy to find a really natural one but when you do they are top level ponies. 5. What role did producing horses have in your early career? It helped me a lot as I managed to produce a few really good mares that got me to 8 goals. 6. Who gave you the best advice and what was it? Always make sure the next horse you buy is better than the best horse you own. Jim Gilmore’s advice‌easier said than done ! 7. How did you learn about producing good polo ponies? I started learning about making thoroughbreds for polo with David Morley when I was around 15 years old . He had produced quite a few for the high goal team Tramontana so had a lot of experience and was the best in England at that time.

8. What would be the most important thing you would tell people beginning producing ponies for themselves? Try to view the horse you're making from a critical perspective . If it shows you signs that it doesn’t want to play polo or finds it difficult to do the things you ask it to do don’t waste time trying to make it . A good polo pony is good on the field because it wants to play , I've seen ponies with great confirmation and ability that just don’t want to play . 9. Is playing or producing ponies more rewarding? I’ve had my polo career at the top in the uk and although it got stopped short through injury when I was 8 goals I really enjoyed it but have always loved making horses and watch them reach the highest level in polo. This is where I am focused now and running along side this we are running a breaking in and training service for people to send us their young horses as well. 10. How many horses do you produce each year? I try to end up with 10 new horses every year but to do this I buy a lot so I have a high turn over of young horses and am constantly trading them so always have young ponies that have been started for polo for sale .



It's hard to imagine such a story behind the creation of HUSK and La Irenita boots could be possible, but it exists!

HUSK was created 3 years ago based on a dream. After having two young children I soon realised that my career as a brand manager for the pharmaceutical industry was impossible to pursue as I battled between travelling, working long hours and wanting to be there for my children.  I wanted to make a difference for the benefit of others in my life also, and the job that I had was not going to fulfill that. 

Horses are what I know and love, and their welfare has always been a keen interest of I met Pablo MacDonough a few months later. I had been trialling various designs and had set up HUSK, and unbeknown to me Pablo's cousin Jacinto Crotto had spotted them on George Meyrick's horse!  He took a photo of the boots and sent it to Pablo's father and international polo vet Dr Jorge MacDonough. 

mine. I knew the healthcare industry well and knew I could transport this knowledge to the equine world, along with a keen eye for attention to detail and perfectionism! 

The concept of the boots arrived as a result of my horse Tia. When she arrived with me she was clean legged, I introduced her to the herd and in fear of her becoming injured, I booted her.  To this day I regret that choice.  She reacted to the heat from the boots, and every day I am reminded of my bad choice as I am faced with the white hairs from her scars on her legs.  I wanted to create protection with full ventilation, so that history didn't repeat itself for others.

On the other side of the world, Jorge had also been dreaming of a boot for polo that was breathable, protective and light, as Jorge described "like a honeycomb cage". Jorge had studied and written many articles to promote the idea of moving away from bandages, and constantly searched for a boot

that matched his vision. I remember we met in Windsor at the Zacara barn, Aurora Eastwood of Polo Quarterly had kindly put us in touch. We discussed the boots and Jorge spoke passionately about his horses, in particular his grey mare that he loved very much.  It was clear that Jorge just loved horses and wanted to make a change for their welfare too!  The journey for La Irenita boots started here!

The journey was far from smooth, but patience, tenacity and vision kept us going. Even when we thought we had found the solution there were knock backs!  It was then that we suffered the biggest knock, when at the start of 2018 we received the news of the passing of our inspiration Dr Jorge MacDonough. 

We now had to work harder than ever. One of Jorge's wishes days before his passing was to make our boots work for 2018.  The vision was clearer than ever, and we flew out to Sotogrande to meet with Pablo and his team to discuss solutions to some of the issues that we had in greater detail.  I had numerous video conferences with the manufacturers to discuss patterns and concepts.  Days were spent driving around to test the boots, and I thank Jacinto Crotto and David Ashby of Oxford polo for preparing the the horses and grooms for the tests despite busy summer schedules!  After great success, the boots were sent out for the final test in Argentina with Pablo MacDonough.

I remember the day I received the message from Pablo. It took me an hour or two to find the courage to listen to it as I knew how important the result was to all of us.  I finally played the message and it was a success!  The boots had worked!  The name of the boots was very clear to the MacDonough family, La Irenita, after Jorge's legacy and brand.  It was and still is a real honour to carry his logo on our boots.

The boots have been launched and are now being used on all of Pablo and Matias MacDonough's horses in the Argentine Open 2018, as well as Jacinto Crotto's horses in team La Irenita. Visit to see the temperature test carried out vs bandages at the debut of La Dolfina in Argentine Open 2018. And follow us for regular updates and tests on our boots on our Instagram @husktechnology

“In honour of Dr Jorge MacDonough”



Use the Hashtag #lalowgoal to be featured in next months magazine!

The University Polo Year is Well Underway By Jess Roche November has been a busy month for university polo clubs across the country. This month Rugby Polo Club hosted the SUPA University Challenge, where teams from a wide variety of universities tried out new team formations, as well as giving students who are new to the sport their first taste of competitive polo. The weekend was very popular and highly successful, due to the organisation of SUPA supremo, Nigel Mercer and his team. Thanks must go to Rugby Polo Club for offering their fantastic facilities for this event. Kent University are busy organising their Christmas tournament, which is on the 1st December and is in aid of Essex and Herts Air Ambulance. Teams from Kent, Essex and UEA have entered into the Eastern area tournament and it will be interesting to see which university shows an early dominance in the academic year. Plans are under way for a number of universities to attend the Snow Polo tournament in St Moritz in January. In previous years students from Durham, Royal Holloway, St Andrews, Leeds and Newcastle have made the trip over to Switzerland for a weekend of polo, skiing and socialising. With return flights currently priced at only £40 it looks like more students will get the opportunity to experience the thrill of watching snow polo this year. Oxford and London had their arena battle this month with each university club sending a novice and intermediate team. Oxford won both challenges, although London put up a strong fight, only losing the novice category by one goal. Many universities hold challenge matches throughout term, which is a really good method for teams tracking their progress, as well as seeing how they hold up under pressure. Whilst polo and occasionally partying is the main focus of university polo clubs, other activities are just as important. This month Bournemouth Polo Club gave up some of their time to help clear up the local environment by joining in a beach clean around Boscombe Pier. This was a short column from us this time, as deadlines pile up in the run down to Christmas. There are quite a few exciting uni polo events in the next few weeks and we look forward to updating you next month on the Christmas countdown antics. 

More experienced students help beginners to get to grips with the game

Chukka Wellness

It is essential to exercise and train your ponies correctly before a match, so why do so many players forget to prepare their own bodies for the game? This is why India, founded Chukka Wellness which offers fitness workshops to Polo players all around the world.

there seemed to be very little focus on the fitness and conditioning side of the sport.

India is a keen rider and Personal Trainer. She has evented for years but recently ventured over to the polo scene where she fell in love with the game.

“As a fitness professional I am always aware of how you can improve a sport through physical prowess and making marginal games in order to be the best. In polo the attention is on how strong and fit the horse is and less so on the player.�

She soon became aware that despite the game being very physical and technical

Chukka Wellness

Chukka Wellness aims to improve polo player’s health, fitness and strength to enhance polo team’s athletic performance. About Chukka Wellness Chukka Wellness focus on 3 elements; fuel, flexibility and functional training. Founder India Parker-Smith says “We focus on these 3 elements as it is important to fuel your body with the correct nutrition, mobilise joints and muscles to prepare them for the high impact play and strengthen muscles & joints with polo specific exercises. We offer workshops to teams and clubs alongside online bespoke fitness programmes for each individual. During the workshops, each rider will be thoroughly assessed with each bespoke training session including: o A focus on mobility to improve swing range of motion and identify any potential weak areas o Whole body strength and resistance exercises to improve motor skills and physical riding performance o Core and balance work to improve ease and confidence of play o Endurance fitness to ensure each rider has the ability to play at maximum for longer o Bespoke nutritional breakdown for riders on and off the pitch to ensure the body is correctly fuelled for better play and recovery

Beginners guide to improving Fitness Start by testing your balance, core and leg strength to identify any weak areas.

BALANCE You can do this by standing on 1 leg and reaching down to touch cones at different angles. Switch legs to identify the weaker side – this is the side that may need a little more attention

CORE Core strength is essential during play so I would suggest trying some ‘wood choppers’. Grab a light weight starting in a squat positon lower the weight down to your left heel then start to stand up engaging your core and gently rotating your upper body bringing the weight with you towards your right shoulder. Hold and then gently return to the starting position. For added difficulty try it on a bosu or wobble board on one leg! Challenge!

LEG STRENGTH Testing leg strength can be done using the ski sit exercise as this exercise primarily uses the upper leg muscles. Stand up against a wall with feet hip shoulder width apart, slowly slip down the wall into a seated position until you have a 90 degree bend in your legs. Hold for as long as you can. If you struggle within the first 45 seconds you may need to work on your leg strength.

Chukka Wellness

NUTRITION Having grown up in the ‘horsey world’ India is a well aware of the struggle to maintain a healthy diet. Sandwiches, fizzy drinks, crisps, bacon rolls – you grab what ever there is to stop the hunger pangs with little realisation on what you are ACTUALLY eating. India works with each player to calculate their macros and offers simple healthy snack and meal suggestions. She says that a typical ‘on-the-go’ lunch for a player should consist of something like this: - Chicken and salad wrap - Water - Protein bar - Banana

“The main aim is to fuel your body properly so that you stay mentally focused and energized throughout each chukka.”

If you are running low on time, India recommends that you snack on a meal like this throughout the day - a bite of a protein bar inbetween chukkas maybe. “Off the field players should be aware that correct macro (protein, fat, carbs) calculations are important for fuel and muscle repair.”

Chukka Wellness are currently based in Sussex and Surrey but travel to teams all over South England. They have also partnered up with Argentina Polo Academy to provide players with fitness weekend workshops in the beautiful Argentine and Spanish countryside.

For more information on the workshops please visit chukka-wellness/ Or contact India at Instagram @chukka_wellness

Contributors This Months Contributors: • • • • • •

Jess Roche Henry Brett HUSK Westcroft Park Polo Club Ignacio Llorente Chukka Wellness

Editor: •Connor Kay

Contact Us: La Low Goal


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La Low Goal - Issue 4 - November  

This months magazine includes: -Ignacio Fernandez - Handicapping Issues - Jess Roche - Latest news from the world of University Polo - Opin...

La Low Goal - Issue 4 - November  

This months magazine includes: -Ignacio Fernandez - Handicapping Issues - Jess Roche - Latest news from the world of University Polo - Opin...