No matter what the season, to keep polo ponies one should bank on at least 1 to 1½ acres per horse. Water should be freely available, and a salt lick must be present in the field. Give water before feeding and hay before grain. If changing food types it is advisable to do it over 3 – 4 days. A pony will not eat grass that is soiled by its own droppings. Either by cleaning the droppings, harrowing the field, or rotating the fields to prevent this is ideal.
Keeping a polo pony during the playing season
During the summer months or the on season, many polo ponies thrive well on grass and hay. Alfalfa grass hay is much higher in both calcium and protein and is much better for polo ponies. Roughage is provided by good grass and dry hay.
Working horses will need grain, and the harder they work the more grain they will need. Watch the ponies carefully to gauge whether they are over or underfed. Working ponies should be fed least twice, but maybe three times a day, depending on the workload. Add a tablespoon of salt to the grain if the pony is playing and sweating, and water must be available all day.
During springtime, care must be taken that the horse is not allowed to over-eat the new, lush grass if it has a weight problem, and to offset the danger of laminitis. A grazing muzzle could be the answer.
Pale horses or those with pale patches on the face are prone to sunburn, especially around the mouth and nose. An equine sunscreen may be applied daily. Flies are a particular nuisance to ponies in the summer, but effective relief can be gained by using fly rugs and fly repellents.
Keeping a polo pony out of season
During the winter months, ponies should be fed according to a regular schedule. Generally, feeding the full day’s ration, divided into two feeds, morning and night, will suit the horse’s digestive system. Giving a full day’s ration at one time may cause a hungry pony to have colic. If there is more than one pony, they should all be fed individually as the biters and the kickers will take advantage in a survival of the fittest, or greediest, situation. Feed with grain in clean, large boxes so spillage is limited, and hay should be provided in a manger or a large box.
Ideally, hay and a concentrate grain feed, in balanced quantities will be required during these cold months.
Ponies with white legs are also prone to mud fever, so watch out for this in the cold, wet months.