Winning with Horses

How One of the Best American Polo Players of All Time and a Sport Horse Veterinarian Balance Human Goals with Equine Needs

Adam Snow, Shelley Onderdonk


(Not yet published)

ISBN: 9781646011728

PUBLICATION DATE: October 14, 2023

CATEGORY: Care & Stable Management, Riding & Training

BINDING: Paperback


Is it possible to be simultaneously passionate about winning in an equestrian sport and about the welfare of horses?

Professional polo player Adam Snow and sport horse veterinarian Shelley Onderdonk answer this undeniably twenty-first-century question with a resounding, “Yes!” They have spent a lifetime together, nurturing Adam's astounding career at the top of his sport (he is the last American polo player to achieve the perfect 10-goal handicap) with the artful, conscientious care and training of the equine partners he needed to be the best. And Shelley's twenty-five years as an equine veterinarian have been spent helping sport horses compete at the highest levels in other disciplines, as well—including reining, racing, eventing, show jumping, and dressage—while always prioritizing long-term health and well-being.

In these pages, Adam and Shelley share the keys to their success…and the struggles and celebrations that taught them along the way. Through the lens of their disparate and yet synchronous experiences in the intense realm of world-class equestrian sport, they explore topics of concern and those worthy of consideration, including the:

- Role of natural training methods and horse-human communication
- Cultivation of a competitive training mindset
- Responsibility of a veterinary team member: goals of prevention and realities of diagnosis
- Options offered by therapeutic alternatives
- Best steps when preparing human and horse for competition
- Hard questions to ask when maintaining an equine athlete
- Pieces that make up the performance puzzle: conditioning, farriery, tack, and travel
- Reality of retirement and when it is the right thing to do, for horse and human

Smart, engaging, and honest, this book is the answer to the online debates and the boardroom arguments. With intelligence and experience, the authors provide the much-needed antidote to the dark side of horse sports. “Our story is an explicit acknowledgement that doing good for the horse is good for results in the competitive arena,” they write. “Our task is to explain our method, and yours is to prove that it can be replicated.”

Meet the author Adam Snow

Adam Snow played polo professionally for 34 years, achieving the highest rating of 10 goals in 2003. Career highlights include winning two US Open titles, competing in the Argentine Open in 1998 and 2004, winning many Best Playing Pony prizes for his horses, and twice being named Player of the Year. He was inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame in 2014. Retired from tournament polo, he now gives back to the sport via coaching, mentoring, writing, as well as announcing polo games for television. Adam grew up in Hamilton, Massachusetts, and received a BA from Yale, where he also played ice hockey and lacrosse.

Meet the author Shelley Onderdonk

Shelley Onderdonk was born and raised in San Mateo, California. She is a graduate of Yale (BA ,89) and University of Georgia (DVM ,97), and has continued her medical education through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and The Chi Institute. Shelley’s integrative veterinary practice, active since 1998, incorporates the best of Western medicine, acupuncture, manual therapy, equine sport science, and rehabilitation for the benefit of her patients. She is an avid environmentalist, rider, writer, and yogini.