Q&A with Nic Roldan

How the other horse lives Q&A with American polo champion and ambassador for Brooke USA, Nic Roldan.

1. How many horses do you have?

For the UK high-goal season I have 15 horses that I’m playing.  Typically I will play 13-14 in a game.

2. Do they have any bad habits? What are their best personality traits?

Comic is an ‘Alpha mare’, with a big character and a big heart. She loves her biscuits (her preference is shortbread with currants).  Her bad habit is when she has had enough, she puts her foot down.

Fortuna, an Argentine-bred mare, is loving, kind and never says no.  She comes to you like a baby.  Her bad habit is that she is a Houdini wannabe - she manages to untie the most complex of knots in a sneaky manner and disappear!

Cullette is a small chestnut horse but super electric/sensitive with a distinct quick movement.  She has a great temperament and is very consistent.  Keep your eyes peeled as she has made the hop across the pond this spring so I can play her in the UK high goal.

Each pony very much has its own personality traits. First thing in the morning is always a lot of fun with some wanting a treat, others a neck stretch or a kiss - each one is different.

Nic Roldan

3. What do your horses eat in an average day?

Mainly haylage and oats, I don’t like to overcomplicate what I feed my ponies and like to keep it all as natural as possible. We like to give them fresh grass when we can, especially post game, which makes them happy and is great for their digestive system.  Chief “giver of love” in my yard is Terri, one of my horse carers. She buys them carrots, apples and biscuits. Comic in particular has a sweet tooth.

4. Where do your horses live?

The La Indiana team I’m playing on is based on the Cowdray Estate, Midhurst, West Sussex, which is simply stunning.  They are stabled in the barn and travel to games at Cowdray and Guards (Windsor).

Post season they are all turned out as a herd to winter outside in fields, getting fat and furry!

5. How do you make sure your horses are healthy?

When the horses arrive in the UK after flying in from the USA or Argentina, vets are waiting at the yard to check them over, help them settle and get over their “jet lag”.  Then we have almost daily vet visits during the season to make sure they are all attended to. At the start of the season all their teeth are done.  Our philosophy is that prevention is better than cure.  At all our games the vet team is present and needless to say as soon as they arrive back on the yard after a game each is checked over and we make sure all their needs are attended too.  Naturally they are all regularly shod. 

Horse sleeping in stable

6. Describe your horses’ social life.

They have their buddies, no polo pony is an only pony.  They usually exercise in groups of five and all have their own relationships.

Around Cowdray there is a lot of stunning common land so we take them for hacks on quiet days, which is magical. People sometimes think they are all wrapped in cotton wool when they’re not playing but that’s not the case.

Their yard buddies include two rescue dogs, Guido and Petunia.

7. What’s your favourite thing about Brooke’s work?

The impact it has on the communities who rely on working equines.

I love being able to give back to horses way less privileged than mine, and to raise awareness of Brooke’s mission, to transform the lives of vulnerable working horses, donkeys and mules around the world.

Help us reach working horses, donkeys and mules in developing countries that often suffer in their day to day lives.

Nic Roldan is hosting the first UK Sunset Polo Event at Cowdray Park on Tuesday 20 June 2017, from 5pm to 11pm. For more information and to buy tickets, visit Nic Roldan’s website.