Perfect manners, style, discipline: the keys to being a great polo player

Those who love polo but had no opportunity to watch a game had a chance to visit a spectacular event on Saturday. The golf and polo club Tseleevo hosted a British Polo Day.

The tournament is taking place for the second time since the inaugural event in September 2013. It was not only a sports day, but also a celebration of luxury with expensive snacks and champagne.

The Rodzyanko family, famous for their polo activity, hosted the event. Mikhail Rodzyanko, is one of 50 Russian polo players. According to him, this sport is inaccessible and that’s why it is considered to be exclusive. "I’ve been working with some stablemen for 10 years  already and they play. Of course under the patronage of my family and still they manage to do it very well. And if there was a need, they could even work professionally abroad." It isn’t a sport for everybody even if you have money, that’s not the reason you can play polo. It’s a sport for gentlemen.

“People who play polo treat their partners seriously, treat their horses and the horses of their partners seriously. If one has an aspiration of playing polo, then one can achieve great results.” Mikhail himself started to play polo by accident. His sister and father were riding and took him to a lesson. “The horse stayed in the corner and didn’t move for an hour so I decided that it’s not mine, I won’t ride.”

After a year a Polo club opened, Mikhail took a stick and his opinion about horses changed a lot. Since then, he plays polo professionally. On British Polo Day RBTH managed to catch the co-founder of the event Edward Olver and speak to him about the sport.

Russia Beyond the Headlines: This is not the first Polo Day in Russia. What has changed since that time?

Edward Olver: Every event we do when we go to a new country, we always have fantastic upswing because we get to meet new people. Obviously the first year you plant the seed and then the sapling grows and there is a lot of enthusiasm when you come back for the second year. So today the weather is lovely, the crowd is being fantastic, we have a wonderful day of polo, so it's been great.

RBTH: What is so special about polo and how does this kind of sport characterise the British person, their manner and the nation in general?

E.O.: Polo is a wonderful sport because it centres around the horse and the horse is an international language, it doesn't matter whether you speak Russian, Chinese, Arabic, if you understand the horse, you have a bridging point. So this wonderful animal is associated with gentle people all over the world. And actually if you go to a new country and meet horse people, you meet gentle people, whom you can build a relationship with and you can establish trust, people you establish trust with, means you can create a good business and a good friendship. So it's a very important part of this journey from establishing a relationship to building trust to then doing business and having long term friendships. So the whole British period is embodied in this day: we have brands associated with heritage, we have wonderful brands associated with a legacy and of course luxury associated with fashion, and importantly philanthropy as well. We raise money for charity whenever we go. And we are proud to raise $1.2 million in the last three years for good causes. So it's delightful to be celebrating Britain with our Russian friends.

RBTH: How would you describe a polo player in a few words?

E.O.: A polo player has humility, because he has an ability to build a relationship with a horse, he has confidence, because he has to ride and tell that horse exactly what to do and he has an incredible bravery, because it takes great skill and courage to get up on this horse and compete on the highest level, it has everything, so it's a very good discipline for life.

RBTH: Does he have a special style or manners as well?

E.O.: Yes, if you are with a horse you have to be gentle, thoughtful, you have to be imaginative as well, because sometimes you don't know why your horse is behaving in a different way. You have to really be empathetic and understanding. So actually if you develop these skills in sport, you can apply them in life with your family, your friends and your business colleagues.

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