Cross-country riding vs polo


Cross-country: A cross-country course (part of eventing, alongside dressage and showjumping) can involve up to 5-6km of fast, hard riding, combined with up to 45 jumping efforts, developing excellent endurance.
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Polo: Polo will develop good local muscular endurance, due to its stop-start bursts of cantering and galloping. At top level, players may keep this up for around 90 minutes, with a rest between each chukka.
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Core strength

Cross-country: All your deep postural muscles are used to stabilise you on a moving object. This is even more pronounced in cross-country riding because you've the added challenge of staying in the saddle while jumping.
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Polo: Polo requires incredible core strength because you need to stabilise yourself for fast, frequent changes of direction. You also have to lean down and out to swing the mallet on either side of the horse.
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Cross-country: Cross-country courses are designed to test not just the riders' skill but also their bravery. Approaching obstacles - such as a jump followed by a watery ditch - at speed is not for the faint-hearted.
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Polo: The pace and competitiveness of polo, combined with eight horses thundering up and down in an enclosed space, is guaranteed to increase adrenaline.
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Lower body muscles

Cross-country: These muscles, especially quads, calves, glutes, adductors (inner thigh) and hamstrings, are constantly recruited, whether you are coming out of the saddle for a gallop or using leg pressure to steer.
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Polo: Again, being in and out of the saddle almost constantly, plus the endless changes of direction in which you steer the horse, means that polo gives the lower body a tough workout.
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Risk of injury

Cross-country: Cross-country riding carries the obvious risk of falling from the horse. The most common injuries are bruising, broken collarbones and ribs, and dislocated joints.
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Polo: As well as falling off, there are other risks, including being hit by the ball, a mallet or another horse. The twisting motions and mallet-swinging can cause overuse injuries, such as shoulder impingement.
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