For more than a decade, Patricio ‘Patrick’ Furlong enjoyed a high-flying career in finance, travelling the world doing overseas business development for a major British bank. But a little less than two years ago, he swapped his suit and tie for breeches and boots to develop a very different type of business: his own polo and riding school.
It was a combination of push and pull factors that led him to make this decision. “The global financial crisis dramatically changed the way banking is done. It affected my perception and enjoyment of the industry,” he says. In addition, he enjoys riding and has been doing it since he was four years old.
Beyond paying himself to indulge in one of his favourite hobbies, Furlong has more noble motivations for starting Colts Polo & Riding. “Polo is perceived to be an elitist, super-exclusive sport that only a select few can participate in,” he says. “This is not the case, and I want to change this perception at the grassroots level by making the sport more accessible to more people. Through education and putting a focus on the psychological benefits of caring for and building relationships with horses, we are seeing a whole new audience getting involved in the sport. It is very rewarding.”
It certainly looks as though Furlong is staying on horseback and never going back to the cubicle. “I wouldn’t change where I am right now. I am having too much fun,” he says. Having established what he claims to be the world’s biggest polo school in less than two years, he has his sights set on even more growth. “I plan to expand the business regionally and then globally. My goal is to have a polo school in every country where the game is played.”