Patrick Furlong believes that once you get on a horse, you’d never get off
Forget the bicycle with training wheels—Patrick Furlong was taught to ride a horse as soon as he could walk. The Founder and Director of Colts Polo & Riding says his childhood was not atypical for a kid born in Argentina, a country known for its thoroughbred horses and strong equestrian tradition.
Even when his professional journey took him on a 21-year detour into the banking sector, Furlong never stopped riding. No matter where he found himself—England, Hong Kong, or Singapore—he was drawn to the local equestrian community like a bee to honey. He dedicated his weekends to polo, not just playing the game, but also actively building the local polo community and spearheading polo groups.
Despite his love for the game, Furlong never had concrete plans to make it his profession. But when he began coaching his own children in polo, he attracted the attention of passing parents who would ask if their kids could join. The group grew quickly and like so many times before, Furlong found himself taking the lead in a polo-related community, except now, it was one with much younger members. In 2018, he decided to make it official. He left his banking job—or, in his own words, “took a break that may be permanent”—and set up Colts Polo & Riding.
Today, Colts has grown into what Furlong believes is the biggest polo school in the world. “As incredible as that may sound, going by the number of students we coach every week, which is about 200, it’s definitely the biggest in Asia, and likely the world,” he says.
“I love polo because of the connection to horses it provides. It requires utmost mutual trust, communication and understanding between the rider and the animal. Horses are a passion. It’s something that you, if exposed at a young age, hardly ever leave or are able to leave. I like competitive sports in general and the connection to horses just takes polo as a sport to a different level.
What excites me most about Colts is getting to bring people, whether children or adults, into a world that they have never experienced before. Because of the connection to the horse, I am bringing them something that’s more rewarding than just playing a game. Every coaching session feels like I am giving my students more than just instructions.
The success of Colts has demonstrated that there is actually a lot of interest in polo. All it took was a little bit of work in breaking preconceptions about the sport as being elitist and making it a little more accessible and affordable. Colts was set up to bring the sport to more people, and that will always be its mission.
My next venture is an academy that will combine top-notch academic education with world-class sports training. Historically, schools either focus on academics or on sports, never both. We are aiming to create an environment where primary- and secondary-school-aged children can fulfill their potential in both aspects, and polo will be an option in the curriculum. We are very close to launching the first of such academies in Southeast Asia. I was also involved with Cavago, an app that’s like a marketplace for equestrian experiences around the world. It allows users to find, book, and pay for things such as a horseback ride on a beach at your holiday destination, or dressage lessons in Europe.
My first horse was a palomino criollo mare (a horse breed native to the Pampas region of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay). Palomino describes a whitish, creamy colour, so the horse was named Paloma, or pigeon in Spanish. I have a memory of swinging a polo mallet for the first time on this horse.”