October 22, 2016

Prevents the player from maintaining balance and forces him to use centripetal force.
When we work or ride a good horse and we lean to one side or the other, we experience inertial movement called centrifugal force. The word ‘centrifugal’ refers to the action of ‘moving outward from the center’. In this case, the saddle would be the center.

This force prevents us from maintaining our balance, unless we realise an (opposing) force directed towards the center, known as centripetal force.

Let’s suppose that a horse travelling at high speed turns to the left. The inertia imposed on the rider opposes the direction of his movement. Given that the horse turns left, the rider will feel displaced towards the right; when he leans on the right stirrup (support), he acts out the necessary centripetal force so that he can accompany the movements of the horse to the left.

The grip from the adductor muscles and the knees also work to counteract the centrifugal force; if the horse is not travelling at speed, these aids are enough.

It is worth noting that one of the characteristics of a good horse is that it generate these opposing forces and that the strength and speed of the turn be similar on both sides. This is what is known in polo terminology as a horse with ‘curves’.

How the horse’s body works to generate strength (curves)

The hind limb on the inside of the turn supports and pushes the majority of the body weight into the turn. The opposing hind limb is also in charge of pushing the body towards the turn, as does the outside front limb. Lastly, the inside front limb seeks to lead the way (support) towards the movement.

Body angle during the turn, or the curve between the body of the horse and the ground, is perfectly measurable using innovative software. This way it will be possible to tell which are the horses who have greater or lesser turning strength. It should be stated that horses with a low action undergo these changes in a more pronounced manner. The opposite occurs with horses which have high action or are further from the ground. Let’s take a formula one car versus an ordinary car as an example: In the first case, the center of gravity is closer to the ground.

Horses, however, that do not have ‘curves’ and are linear, are harder to turn. Horses learn to move with ‘curves’ as they mature and are taught patiently.

Therefore, the rider must maintain his position on the saddle in the following way:

a) Take a half seat position with an upright torso.
b) Hips, adductors and knees should be firm with good grip.
c) The support on the stirrup on the outside of the turn will increase and the necessary pressure will be applied to counter balance the turn. This will lead to the elevation of said supporting leg from the knee down.

These movements of certain horses can cause beginners to lose their balance; the rider is then forced to grab the horse’s withers to avoid falling off altogether.

These horses increase the likelihood of a rider pulling a muscle, due to the great force of their turns.

It is therefore good to acquire horses that have the ability of turning, I would say, almost with violence. At the same time, we must remember that they will expect an improved level of riding.

Eduardo Amaya

Eduardo Amaya has dedicated his whole life to the Polo sport. With more than 30 years of experience. His dedication and exquisite teachings makes him one of the best Polo trainers in the World

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