Tiamo Hudspeth has a quiet moment with one of the polo ponies she works with in her temporary barn during Houston’s spring polo season. She joined the United States Polo Association (USPA) team six years ago, though she has been playing polo and training horses for much longer.
Hudspeth returns a horse bridle to the trailer where she stores all of the tack after a day of exercising the horses.
Hudspeth and one of her grooms Emily Christensen organize halters on a gate after letting the horses out into the pasture at the end of the day. In polo, grooms are assistants for the players and have a number of duties that include helping feed and exercise the horses. A groom's most important role is tacking the horses up before a game and helping the players switch horses in between chukkers, the name of the periods by which a polo match is divided.
Hudspeth rinses the horses early on a Sunday the morning in preparation for a game in Wharton, Texas. During the Houston Polo Season, she rents a barn and apartment in Brookshire, Texas and wakes up before sunrise on game days to make preparations before having to drive into Houston or Wharton, both about an hour away from the barn.
Hudspeth and her groom Erica wrap the horses' legs before a charity polo match in McFaddin, Texas, a small unincorporated community near Victoria, Texas. The wraps, made of fleece, are used to protect the horses legs and to provide support during games.
Hudspeth tacks up her horses before a charity game in McFaddin, Texas. Hudsepth and her groom have to prepare anywhere from 8-12 horses per game for herself and her sponsor. A polo game can consist of 4-6 chukkers and players switch horses between every chukker.
Hudspeth puts a bridle on her horse named “Blueduck”, who she trained herself and has a personal connection with. While her sponsor owns most of the horses she rides, this is one horse out of a couple that she owns.
Hudspeth (middle) along with her teammates and opponents ride towards the ball during a scrimmage match at the Houston Polo Club on April 1, 2017. Polo teams are made up of both sponsors as well as professional players. Sponsors are usually independently wealthy and provide the funds for professional players to maintain their ponies as well as play.
Hudspeth on one of her favorite polo ponies, Blueduck, during the first scrimmage match of Houston's spring polo season.
Hudspeth riding off her opponent during a match at the Hosuton Polo Club. A player's opponent can ride up next to them, called a bump or ride off, to spoil their shot or remove them from the play, but the angle of contact must be no more than 45 degrees to prevent accidents and injuries.
Hudspeth loads up the horses after a scrimmage match to kick off Houston's spring polo season on April 1, 2017. Hudspeth plays full-time during each polo season in addition to caring for and exercising the horses daily.
Hudspeth laughs at her groom and horses after playing in a scrimmage match in Houston, Texas. She has a humorous personality and maintains a fun working environment.
The grill of Hudspeth’s heavy duty truck covered in love bugs during the spring polo season. She is constantly on the road both during and in between polo seasons.
Hudspeth leads the horses out to the pasture at the end of the day. She works with the horses from sunrise to sunset six days a week.