Polo Pro

A Day in the Life of Polo Player Francisco Llosa

One day with Francisco Llosa of the Sarasota Polo Club.

By Cooper Levey-Baker Photography by Robert Castro March 1, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Francisco “Frankie” Llosa didn’t play polo until he turned 16, but the 42-year-old Argentina native has been riding horses almost since birth. “I started walking and riding at the same time,” he says. While his older brother first turned him onto polo, he says the horses are the real draw. “Horses are 80 percent of the game,” Llosa says. “They’re smart animals, and I enjoy the training. You see them get better; it’s like seeing a kid grow up.” Llosa started playing professional polo at the Sarasota Polo Club in 2002. Every season, from December through April, he plays a couple of tournament games each week, but the real work, of caring for the horses and keeping in shape, happens every day. 

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7:33 a.m.  “When the horses come in to eat their breakfast, you want to check to see they didn’t get any cuts or injuries on their legs. It could be from getting kicked or bumped or hit with the ball. Their motor is in their legs, so it’s crucial. My dog Lupito is my everyday friend, my buddy all day long.”

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10:06 a.m. “She’s one of my young horses still in the process of training. We give them little lessons. How to turn. How to stop and pivot on their rear legs. It’s like going to school every day. Horses learn from repetition. You just have to be consistent.”

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11:18 a.m. “I started working as a groom, doing all the barn work, feeding the horses and cleaning, and I slowly worked my way up. Now I work with a lady from Kansas. I manage and train horses, I organize the barns, get papers for the horses to travel. A little bit of everything.”

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12:12 p.m. “I usually like to get to the field about 45 minutes or an hour before the game. Do I have any superstitions? The only superstition I have is that I want to make sure my horses are in good shape. The horses come first.”

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1:48 p.m. “It can be pretty busy on the field, so you just want to be as relaxed as possible. Once you start playing, you’re always talking strategy with your teammates. You’ve got to keep communicating, because in polo, things change all the time. We try to keep it fun for the sponsors and our teammates.”

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3:06 p.m. “A game takes roughly an hour and 45 minutes, depending on the amount of penalties. The games change from week to week. You can be playing with different pros or different sponsors. Hopefully you don’t lose too badly, but at the end of the day, it’s a friendly game.”

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3:54 p.m.  “One of our neighbor’s kids wanted to give the horses a treat. That’s the fun part of polo. Kids are involved and families are involved. Everybody’s having fun.”

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5:43 p.m. “After the horses eat their dinner, around sundown, they go out to the paddocks, where they go at night to eat some grass and walk around with their buddies.”

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7:52 p.m. “Polo can be demanding on your body. But we do this every day for a living, so if you’re not in shape you’re doing something wrong. After a game you do want to relax and take it easy. I’m with my wife, Linda Allard, and our two Australian shepherds.”

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