• Ainslie Maher

Always Use Protection: A Guide To Safety Equipment

Updated: Oct 8



Here is a list of all the gear you should consider buying to keep you safe and sound

on the polo field. Some of these items are optional and some are non negotiable.

Let's get started.....





Helmet:

The polo helmet is it THE MOST important piece of safety equipment you can wear to protect your head from serious injury. It is non negotiable!



Each country has different safety specifications for the type of helmet you need to wear. It is important that you contact your local polo club or polo association to find out what the rules are in your country, because if you are not wearing the correct helmet you will not be allowed to play.

In Australia a 3 point harness is essential for play, and a certified helmet is also encouraged.

Casablanca, Armis, Edition, Instinct and Charles Owen are some of the brands that are popular on the field.


Chin straps:

Below on the left you will see the old style 2 point chin strap, which means it attaches to the 2 sides of the helmet. This is now banned in most countries as it has been deemed unsafe. On the right you will see a 3 point harness (chin strap) which is mandatory in Australia. It attaches to 3 parts of the helmet. The left, right and the back.


Helmet Styles:

Also pictured above are the 2 different styles of helmets. Argentine style seen on the left, and English/Lock style on the right. If you look closely there is a slight variation in the way the peak attaches. Both styles are seen on the field in Australia. Neither helmet is better than the other, it's just a personal preference thing.


A basic good quality helmet will cost around $450 and above. Some brands enable you to have your polo helmet custom made to what ever colour you want, with a fabric or leather finish. The possibilities are endless!!! If you head to the Casablanca and Armis websites, you could quite possibly spend hours using their "Bespoke helmet customising centre" as Casablanca calls it! Don't say I didn't warn you! Make sure you have a family member close by to drag you off there if you get out of control!!!




Tip: If you are ordering your helmet from an overseas company like Casablanca, it is important to make sure you order the correct size, as a custom made bespoke helmet is non refundable. See if any of the players at your club will let you try their helmet in the same brand out for size before you order. Brands can run slightly different in sizing.






A MUST READ:

Here are some websites with an in depth look at polo helmet safety and helmet brands:

**These are not Australian websites, so some of the specifications listed may slightly differ.

https://www.worldpolonews.com/2019/ensure-safety-with-polo-helmets/

https://www.performance-polo.com/post/2018/01/28/polo-helmet-safety-trusting-your-helmet-to-protect-you

https://www.pololine.com/articles/casablanca-takes-step-forward-and-presents-safest-helmet-in-the-world/






Knee Guards:


Once you start riding off at a faster pace, you will realise exactly why you need knee guards. Other players knees, buckles and boots can bang straight into your knees during a ride off and it can really hurt if you're not wearing any protection...And then of course there's the obvious...the ball being hit smack bang into your knee. If you're just stick and balling or doing a lesson, you can probably skip these. We highly recommend them for chukkas. They are made from leather and

have adjustable velcro straps. They usually come in kids and adult size.

You can pick up a pair of these in our online shop.





Elbow Pads:


If you ever say 'I don't need elbow pads" knock on wood immediately, because there's a high chance you will be hit straight in the elbow with a flying polo ball within the next 48 hours!!

You always think its not going to happen, but its not worth the risk! A hard hit from a ball can shatter your elbow and leave you unable to play polo for a very long time.

These pads are made of neoprene, and have a hard shell cover that goes over your elbow area. 2 brands we like are Ona and Casablanca. They come in several different sizes from xs to large and have adjustable straps. These are more so needed when playing chukkas rather than lessons and stick and ball.






Gloves:


Not all players choose to wear gloves, but we think they can actually improve your game. They not only protect your hands from blisters, cuts and rubbing on your ponies neck, they also give you a good grip on the reins so you can control your pony with ease, and get a great grip on the mallet too. Some players choose to wear only one glove for their mallet hand. This is why you will see the option to buy just 1 right handed glove in some polo stores. Polo gloves in particular are a lot more durable than normal horse riding gloves, so they will last a lot longer. They also have a better grip and come in some really cool colours and styles. They come in S, M & L

Brands we like are Casablanca, Ona and Hook. Check out our online shop to purchase your gloves.





Polo Boots:


These boots are extremely sturdy and hard wearing. Once you slip on a pair of these babies you will never go back! They protect your legs from flying balls, ride offs and give you a really good grip on those stirrups which makes you feel a lot safer in the saddle. Most brands have a zip at the front of the boot which makes them very easy to get on and off. They come in the usual boot/shoe sizes, or can be custom made to fit your measurements. They can be a little stiff at first, so will need wearing in. It is important to clean and polish or oil your boots regularly, as the sweat from your horse can damage them. Polo boots aren't cheap, but they are a great investment as they last for years and years.


Tip: Boots and knee guards come in various different shades of brown and black. It's a good idea to get knee guards that are the same colour as your boots. We sell polo boots in our online store. Give us your measurements and we can have some made for you.




Eyewear:


Another one where you might say "Do I really need these?"

Those who have been hit in the eye with a flying ball will tell you definitely YES!

Eyes are very important!!! So you should protect them! These glasses not only protect you from the ball, they also protect you from flying horse poop and dirt which can scratch your eyes. Not to mention those miserable midges (flying ant like creatures) that turn up every summer and try to ruin our lives!!! Pictured above are the BEE'S KNEES of protective eyewear, Oakley Jawbreakers. Yes, you may look like a futuristic fighter pilot from the 90's when you put them on....Yes they are pricey...BUT thanks to Oakley's "Exclusive lens technology," once you slide a pair of these babies on, you will be singing "I can see clearly now the rain has gone" at the top of your lungs. Not to mention the colour range is AH-MAA- ZING!!! And...if you wear glasses for vision, this brand is also available with prescription lenses. A cheaper option is the Rockbros brand, or if you're not too worried about fashion (said no-one ever!!) you can head to Bunnings and pick up some shatter proof protective glasses. A tip for buying protective eyewear... Don't buy glasses without the plastic edge around the lenses, as the lens can cut into your face if you get hit by the ball.



Face Mask:

This one can protect your face, nose and teeth from getting hit by the polo ball. However it is thought by some players that if you fall off your pony and land on this mask in the wrong way, you could be more likely to break your neck. That is definitely something to think about. There are some masks that are designed to crush on impact during a fall so this doesn't happen.





Mouth Guard:

If you're unlucky enough to be hit in the mouth by a flying ball or mallet, there is a possibility you could break your teeth (ouch!!!) This is another one that not all players wear, but probably should! You can buy a stock standard mouthguard like the one pictured from a sporting goods store like Rebel Sport. You can also get a custom made mouthguard from your dentist. They will take an impression of your teeth and gums, and make you a mouthguard that fits perfectly.



That's our safety equipment talk completed for today gang! Stay tuned for more blogs coming your way very soon.







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