Welfare

1. Welfare of Ponies.

The Stewards are determined that any abuse of ponies whether on the ground or off, for instance when turned out, will not be tolerated.

2. Inspection of Ponies.

With the approval of the Welfare Committee, the Chairman of that committee may ask a veterinary surgeon and a member of the committee, to inspect ponies belonging to an associate member or affiliated club, whether on a polo ground in a yard or turned out. If the associate member or club refuse permission for the inspection, which may be carried out at short notice, they will be reported to the Stewards under Regulation 6.

3. Referral to Stewards.

The Chairman of the Welfare Committee may refer any club or associate member direct to the Stewards for a disciplinary hearing.

4. Welfare Cover at Polo.

At all games run by an affiliated club, an official of that club must be in attendance in case a welfare problem arises.

See also Rule 10.

5. Complaints.

If a complaint is received, whether from the general public, a veterinary surgeon, a club official, an officer of any other horse welfare body or from a member of the Welfare Committee a report form should be completed and sent to the Chairman of the Committee and the club concerned. The Chairman will liaise with the club concerned as to the action to be taken; if it is necessary for an inspection to be made with a veterinary surgeon his cost will be borne by the club concerned. A Club Disciplinary Committee is obliged under Regulation 6 to hold a hearing, if they receive a report from a veterinary surgeon concerning abuse or cruelty to any pony. A report of that hearing must be sent to the Welfare Committee Chairman.

6. Responsibilities.

a. Owners must take all responsible steps to ensure the welfare of their ponies including during the winter months. ‘Owner’ shall mean the individual or individuals whom the Disciplinary Committee is satisfied in fact enjoy the rights, privileges and powers incidental to ownership. This includes, without limitation, the power to make decisions concerning the care and welfare of the animal, whether such individual(s) had any legal status as owner or not. In the case of hirelings, a member of the HPA involved in the hiring of ponies has the responsibility of ‘owner’ until the pony or ponies concerned have been handed over officially to another member of the HPA or his agent.

b. Clubs. In view of the fact that, particularly early in the season, some ponies appear on the polo ground in poor bodily condition, it is recommended that a representative of the club should informally inspect the pony lines to observe any ponies in a poor condition and then refer them to the veterinary surgeon required – see paragraph 16 below. If a club and a veterinary surgeon stop a pony playing because of its poor condition, a report form must be sent to the Chairman of the Welfare Committee.

7.Rules.

The Rules that affect the welfare of ponies must be adhered to by members and enforced by clubs and umpires.

a. Rule 2h- Spurs and Whips. Umpires should inspect spurs before a match and have removed any sharp ones. They should fill in a report form to ensure that the same spurs do not appear at other clubs.

b. Rule 4 – Ponies, Pony Equipment and Pony Welfare (i) Poor or badly fitted tack which is causing physical damage to the pony is not allowed. (ii) Any pony that is seen to be lame should be referred to the duty veterinary surgeon before resuming another chukka. (If a pony does resume play, it is suggested that a public announcement should made). Lame ponies should not play. If a pony is not sound, it is the Umpire’s responsibility in the absence of a vet, to see that the pony is taken off the ground in the most humane way possible. (iii) No pony may play seen with blood in its mouth. Ponies seen with blood in their mouths or excess spur or whip marks should be reported to the umpire or the referee, who should then request that the pony be inspected by the veterinary surgeon. If no veterinary surgeon is present (iii) the pony should be inspected by an official or representative of the club; if in doubt about the severity of the wound, the pony should not be allowed to play until a veterinary surgeon’s report has been received.

c. Rule 10 – Veterinary Cover.

d. Rule 28 – Play Stopped for Dangerous or Broken Tack, Pony Condition or Equipment.

e. Rule 29 – Play stopped for Accident or Injury to Pony.

f. Rule 35 – Riding Off, Dangerous Riding and Intimidation.

g. Rule 36 – Hooking and Misuse of Stick.

h. Rule 37 – Rough or Abusive Behaviour.

8.Water.

The with-holding of water for an extended period of time is detrimental to pony’s health and should not be allowed.

9.Shoeing.

The Farriers’ Registration Act, which has been law since 1975, states that person who shoes a horse, including their own, must be a registered farrier.

10.Pony ‘Put Down’.

In the event of it appearing desirable for a pony to be put down for humane reasons, such reasonable efforts as the circumstances permit should be made to contact the owner for his decision. Should the owner not be so contactable, the own representative or the person borrowing or renting the pony should take responsibility for authorising the pony to be put down, if he is satisfied that the horse is in extremis i.e. that it cannot be moved without an unacceptable degree of discomfort and where there is no foreseeable prospect of the pony recovering from its injuries. It is suggested that chemical euthanasia may well be used in the event of a pony having to be put down in front of the public; in that case, the carcass will have to be destroyed.

11.Misuse of Drugs.

a. Local Anaesthetics. Local anaesthetics may be used to repair a wound but, following their use, a pony is not allowed to play unless passed fit to do so by a vetinary surgeon.

b. Banned Drugs. Although some drugs banned in other sports may be appropriately used in moderation in connection with polo ponies, heart stimulants of any kind are NOT to be administered under any circumstances, due to the danger to both horse and rider. The administration of any drug or substance which is not a normal constituent of horse feed is banned with the exception of the following: (i) Phenylbutazone and Flunixin. The concentration in the blood plasma of phenylbutazone, with its active metabolite oxyphenbutazone, or of flunixin must be less than 10 micrograms per ml of plasma. If they are used together the concentration of either must be less than 5 ug/ml. It is recommended that, to i stay within these limits, a maximum dose of phenylbutazone is 2 grams a day and the last dose should be given no later than 10 p.m. on the night before play. A recommended dose of flunixin is no more than 2 x 10 gram sachets of Finadyne per day. In both cases, the dose should be halved if both are given. ii) Ventipulmin TM (iii) Sputolosin TM (iv) Vi-Sorbin TM (v) Isoxsuprine (vi) Regumate TM (vii) Antibiotics except procaine penicillin. (viii) Oral Diuretics but only if prior declaration of their administration has been made to the Club. Their intravenous use is not allowed.

c. Testing. Both random and specific tests will be arranged by the HPA and the clubs a considered necessary. The services of the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory will be used.

d. Positive Test. If a sample of a pony’s blood when tested proves to have quantities of drugs above the permitted levels, a report form must be completed and copies sent to the player and the owner of the pony and their clubs and to the Chairman of the Welfare Committee. The club to which the owner belongs is bound to hold a disciplinary hearing.