Proper precautions were taken in Aspen snow polo tourney
My name is Darrell V. Schwetz. I am a former five-goal professional polo player and am currently a AA umpire one of five in the U.S. certified by the United States Polo Association and have been in the equine business and polo for over 35 years.
I am writing this letter to address issues brought to my attention concerning the horses and their conditioning for the 2011 Snow Polo Championship Tournament in Aspen. I have been coming to snow polo for four years as the head umpire of the tournament.
This year I arrived on Nov. 25 at the Stout Ranch in New Castle, Colo., and personally prepared the 20 horses with two groomers for the snow polo. These horses had a one-month turnout before we started riding them. They had 21 days of riding including practice games. This is adequate time for the horses to regain their fitness. (FYI: It takes one week to 10 days for every month a horse is turned out to bring them back to polo fitness.)
The horses were handled properly as 14 years of previous snow polo experience has shown. The horses have better traction on the snow without back shoes, the natural rough edge of their hooves create better stability – unlike steel shoes that would simulate a sled on snow or ice.
Concerning the mare that was injured, it was her first chukker (period) of the tournament and I was the closest to the unfortunate accident. Sadly it was rider’s error. He cut too close to the hind legs of another player’s horse and the mare tripped and fell. This can happen on grass, dirt, sand or anywhere polo is played. It is inherently a dangerous sport that we all understand as polo people.
I personally monitored with the help of the groom manager the condition of the horses being played. If any horses were fatigued they were not played. All the tack was properly fitted and in good condition. We had two brand-new stirrup leathers break and one saddle hanger break thus causing a stirrup issue.
We take all realistic precautions to insure the well being of the horses.
Darrell V. Schwetz
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