Seb Dawnay – Meet a Member
A forth generation professional polo player and lives in Maidens Green, Berkshire with his beautiful wife Louisa and 22 month baby girl Sienna. Along with 14 polo ponies, they share their home with 2 Jack Russells, a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler.
When did you first hear about Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks?
I bought Monty’s book ‘The Man Who Listens To Horses’ in 1999 and could not put it down, then I met both Kelly and Monty very briefly at one of their amazing demonstrations in October 2006
How long have you been an IH member?
I joined straight after that demo, but lost touch a bit because of a busy career and travelling. Then out of the blue I received an email about the possibility to have ‘Tea with Monty’ run by Kelly at her home last October. I jumped at the wonderful opportunity and renewed my membership straight away.
What courses have you done, and what are your horsemanship goals?
I did the 5 day foundation course and horse psychology course this year. My goals are to better understand the horse and strive to improve the bond with them.
Any best memories at IH courses/events?
So many… where do I begin!!! Join-Up was the most incredible feeling and was everything I imagined it would be, loved doing long lining and working with the horses on the ground. Being with a lovely group of people all trying to go the same direction all supporting each other while being taught by professional and lovely instructors. Kelly was fantastic- she has so much knowledge and made everyone feel so welcome and calm no matter what equestrian background they had, but at the same time pushing us all to achieve goals.
You are a 4th generation polo player, tell us more about your polo heritage
My great grandfather played before WW1 but unfortunately did not return from fighting in Belgium.
His son (my Grandfather) Major General Sir David Dawnay became a top English polo player and Captained the British Polo Team in front of Hitler in the 1936 Olympics. After the War he was made Commandant of Sandhurst and also became clerk of the course at Ascot.
His son Hugh (my dad) became a Major in the army but left to open the first official polo school in the world in 1976 and he taught his methods in 37 different countries, he also wrote two bestselling polo books ‘Polo Vision’ and ‘Playmaker Polo’.
Funnily enough he didn’t want me to be a professional (because he knew how difficult the life actually is) but after he knew I would not change my mind, he was a wonderful support and mentor throughout my career.
Who are your greatest influences?
My parents, Edwardo Albarracin (an Argentine Player who played with my dad and was an incredible player and horseman), Monty, Kelly and the IH Team… I’m blown away by their knowledge and their never ending pursuit to finding solutions and answers to both psychological and physical equine problems.
How do you find IH methods fit in with polo, and have you made any changes to the way you work?
Yes the IH methods are greatly needed in polo, many horses have had difficult pasts and have many issues on the ground. I have definitely changed my approach to working with them using lots of ground work as another form of schooling.
Traditions are definitely still present but there are changes slowly happening. Monty’s invitation by the top America and South American players is a giant leap forwards for the sport.
What have been your proudest achievements?
Becoming a dad, being the first player to have won both the Arena Gold Cup and Cowdray Park Gold Cup, to have represented both England and Ireland in the Arena and outdoor game of polo.
If you didn’t play polo professionally, what other career might you have enjoyed?
I really liked history and art at school and applied for both art college and an archaeology course plus I had the army snapping at my heels but I was totally hooked on horses and polo.
Tell us about your Country House and Stables shop
I want to play the wonderful sport of polo all my life but at the same time be realistic, so I retired from playing internationals last season and decided it was time to do something alongside my career. So I opened a gallery and gift shop called The Country House and Stables where everything has a nod to country living and in particular equestrian themes. The gallery/gift shop is based at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, near Windsor, stocking everything from large sculptures, art and photography to smaller gifts, homeware and polo equipment.