POLO+10: Pepe, your family has a longstanding strong tradition in the sport of polo. When did you start your career as a horseman and polo player?
Pepe Riglos: I have been training polo horses for more than 32 years. I work for the Argentine Polo Association, where my task is to train and educate polo horses. Through the years I have developed my personal concept of ‚horse casting’. In order to assess and evaluate polo horses, I visit the stables and go through all the horses of a determined polo player. Then I estimate and analyse the horse’s potential and give significant advise regarding further training and performance expectability of the horse.
POLO+10: How does the casting proceed after the analysis of the horses?
Pepe: What is singular about this process is that I integrate not only the polo player, but also the grooms and the whole surrounding. We talk about how to train and feed the horses, necessary relaxation breaks, and we set up a complete training agenda for the player.
POLO+10: How did you get into the sport of polo?
Pepe: When I was 18 years old I had the great luck and chance to train the horses of Memo Gracida. That was even before he came to play the Argentine Open. It is a fantastic opportunity for a very young player, to get to know really good horses. That is where you begin to understand what polo is about.
POLO+10: How many horses do you host and train at your farm in Argentina?
Pepe: At the moment I have 50 horses in my stable.
POLO+10: You are also very successful in breeding polo horses …
Pepe: Three years ago, Pablo Mac Donough played with three of my horses at the Argentine Open, which is a great honour.
POLO+10: You had your own high goal polo career. When did it start?
Pepe: I started playing high goal at the age of 20. Now I am 48. I stopped my international high goal polo career at the age of 42. I still play at high goals level, but only in Argentina. Besides that, I focus on breeding and the horse casting.
POLO+10: Is your horse casting interesting and possible for every player and owner of polo ponies?
Pepe: Yes, that is absolutely right. I can come to any stable and in a short time I can analyse every single horse. I work together with the grooms intensively. We adjust the horses’ food suitable to their shape and state of training. I control and fix the bridle, take a look at how they train the horses and help them to improve the training and performance.
POLO+10: How do you react when a horse does not fit its owner?
Pepe: First of all I am honest. If a horse does not at all fit, I tell the owner: ‚This is not an appropriate choice as your horse has a hard mouth and neck. Don’t waste your time.’
POLO+10: How long does it take you to analyse a horse and how long to bring it into proper high goal shape?
Pepe: I need about 10 days to recognize real polo talent. Then it takes 2 years to train a horse into an excellent high goal shape. I can fix horses for any level of player.
POLO+10: You have a huge polo family and farm in Argentina. How is everyday life when you are there?
Pepe: Together with my brothers Marcos and Martin and cousins we have 3 polo fields and altogether 150 horses there. We play family polo on a 12-15 goal level. My son Josecito is 11 now, my nephew 12. They are already playing together with us. Josecito is already helping me with the very young horses.
POLO+10: Which are the core characteristics of a good polo horse?
Pepe: The talent for speeding-up and a good sensible mouth form a good polo horse.
POLO+10: Which is your most important advice for the players?
Pepe: Do not move on the horse! Sit still! The so-called riding off is a difficult process, that can be a dangerous moment. You have to catch up with the other player before you start to ride him off. At our 1.200 ha farm in Argentina we teach young horses the riding-off with a cow as rival. We have about 450 cows.
POLO+10: Where in the world did you play polo and what does your annual calendar look like?
Pepe: I have played in Brazil, Colombia, Australia and Europe, specially in England where I played for 13 years. Today I want to focus more and more on the horse casting as I am absolutely fascinated by the results. From March to May I play at the Tortugas Country Club. At Tortugas, we have 7 polo fields, golf, squash, gym, sauna, tennis and a supermarket. It is only 30 minutes away from Buenos Aires.
Dear Pepe, thank you very much for the conversation and good luck for the future!