The Argentine Polo Pony, as its name implies, originated in Argentina and is mainly used for polo, an ancient equine sport developed in the Orient over two thousand years ago. While not techinically a breed, the Argentine Polo Pony is very common, which is directly attributed to the popularity of the sport of polo.
The Argentine Polo Pony may look as beautiful as any other horse, but it is highly sought after because of its speed, stamina, and endurance. The ideal Argentine Polo Pony has a steady gallop and is quick, agile, and able to stop and turn quickly when prompted -- all of which are requirements for the sport of polo. It also has a long neck, a powerful back, and well-set shoulders.
Standing about 14.2 to 15 hands high (57-60 inches, 144-152 centimeters), the Argentine Polo Pony is relatively small, though this is important for the sport of polo. Otherwise, polo players would be unable to reach down and hit the ball. In certain polo-playing countries, a height limit is imposed for polo ponies. In England, for instance, this is set at 14 hands high.
The Argentine Polo Pony is generally calm, but it is also a competitive breed. Always alert and unfailingly obedient, the horse is sensitive to signals and commands from its rider.
Technically, the Argentine Polo Pony is not even a distinct breed but a variant of the Argentine Criollo. Polo is, after all, a game that can be played using almost any horse breed. In other words, a Polo player can just take his pick among the many different breeds available.
Naturally, however, there are ideal breeds for the polo sport. Manupuri "ponies" in India were the first to be used extensively, though polo enthusiasts soon realized the Argentine Criollo possessed the vital qualities of toughness, calmness, and stamina for polo. Through the infusion of the Thoroughbred blood into the stock, the Argentine Criollo’s suitability was enhanced and the variant Argentine Polo Pony was born. Today, Argentina is still one of the most popular exporters of polo horses.