Our Horses

Roddy Wood has played polo since he was 21. Like many young men, he was lured to the exciting world of polo after a successful career in showjumping and three-day eventing.

He could not afford to buy his own team of polo ponies, so, out of necessity, began to train a string himself. Over the following 30 years as a professional player, Roddy and his team at Waireka have trained hundreds of polo ponies.

He has developed and fine-tuned a training programme which delivers polo ponies ideally adapted to high-goal competition.

Roddy is an unashamed fan of the New Zealand thoroughbreds as polo ponies, hand-picking smaller examples – usually around 15 to 15.3 hands – which are quickly introduced to his training programme.

The thoroughbred, he says, is an extremely gifted horse, showing the athleticism, stamina, speed and intelligence which are qualities needed to compete at polo at the top level. The New Zealand environment seems to produce thoroughbreds particularly suited to the game.

Waireka Polo’s programme nurtures the young bloodstock, being very careful not to “blow their minds” by taking them through the training programme too quickly. Young horses need time to adapt and learn skills that need to become second-nature to them.

Waireka Polo starts the horses under saddle as two-year-olds. Over the next two years they are carefully and gently introduced to the game. Each year, those who aren’t meeting the necessary standard are sold to pursue other equestrian careers.

As four-year-olds the horses are introduced to low-goal polo. Generally, by the following year those with a clear aptitude for the game are playing higher goal polo.

It is these mounts that Waireka Polo sells around the world, usually around five to eight years of age. Horses that he has supplied to Britain have won best-playing prizes in the prestigious Queen’s Cup, Coronation Cup and the Royal Windsor.

Roddy Wood makes no bones about it. He did not become a six-goal polo professional by riding sub-standard mounts. Even the very best players in the world will look ordinary if playing on ordinary horses.