A sad story
I attended the snow polo event in Aspen last weekend. Within a few minutes of my arrival on Saturday, a horse’s legs slid out from under him and he had a terrible fall. I knew the poor horse was seriously injured when he didn’t get up. When he finally tried to get up, his rear end collapsed under him, and he went down and was unable to even try to get back up again. They brought a horse trailer into the arena and managed to get the poor horse into it. The event was ruined for me, for I knew that the horse was very seriously or fatally injured.
I found out later, talking with one of the players, that the poor horse was put down. That player, a professional who was paid to play in the event, was very upset with the fact that the horses only had front shoes on and no back shoes, making it very dangerous for the riders and the horses. In an event on snow, such as this one was, all the horses, in order to have traction on the slippery snow, should have had shoes on all four feet and caulks on the rear shoes. The player also told me that the organizer had said that he was going to bring in more snow, but he didn’t. As a result, the playing surface was as much wet and slippery grass as it was snow. Another person told me that the organizer probably saved about $500 by not having the horses properly shod for snow.
Also, I was told that there weren’t enough horses for all the players and each horse had to be played three or four times each day. It was clear to that player, as well as to me, that the organizer was pinching pennies to make as much money as possible.
How did the high-end sponsors feel about these issues and about the shabby look and feel of the event? Will they be coming back to sponsor another Aspen event?
One winter, I happened to see what is a yearly snow polo event on the lake below St. Moritz (the famous ski town in Switzerland), and the event was amazing. I feel that Aspen, the most famous ski resort in the world, and the magnificent sport of polo deserve a safe and beautiful event. The snow polo event this last weekend was an embarrassment to Aspen and inhumane for the horses forced to play in terribly unsafe conditions.
If Aspen is going to allow this event to happen in the future, please make sure that the event is monitored by a reputable vet, who is not in the employ of the organizer. There are a hundred other things wrong with this event. I hope that there is someday a snow polo event in Aspen that is put on by someone who is not so concerned about putting as much as possible of the sponsors’ money in his pockets and is more concerned about putting on a great event that doesn’t irresponsibly put horses at risk. At least one horse paid the price this weekend and I’m sure that, in past years, other horses have been sacrificed for the event. It’s just not worth it.
Aspen and New York, N.Y.
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