Interview With Adam Snow on Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen
Written by GoHorse on June 29, 2016
Polo- A sport many associate with wealth, glamour and the privileged elite. But there is a unique and rarely seen other side to the sport. A view that comes from atop and beside the polo ponies, from the trailers and on the road that decidedly diverts from the common preconception of the sport. Enter: Adam Snow and his book, Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen.
Adam Snow is high goal polo player, both highly accomplished and driven, whose blood runs thick with polo; his father and paternal grandfather had both been polo players. For Snow, polo has become synonymous with life itself. In his book, Snow shares not only his story, but also that of his wife’s and the reality of chasing a dream, the setbacks and the triumphs, while demystifying the the behind-the-scenes polo truth.
After two years working collaboratively with his wife, Shelley, the couples’ writing project of Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen was finally completed. Snow says, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. Initially, I dreamed of writing a fiction novel. But the polo life has become my life, and I feel we have a lot to tell.”
We were lucky enough to catch up with Snow and he graciously answered our burning questions regarding his process, future goals and the impact he hopes his book will have on readers.
Why this book? What made you want to write Polo Life?
Snow: I have always liked to write. For years I kept a journal, mostly while traveling. Later, this became jotting down performance thoughts before and after games. I would contribute pieces to polo publications. And I have always wanted to debunk the Pretty Woman preconceptions about polo, and help people recognize the amazing game (and horses) that it is to me.
How did you know it was time to embark on this project?
Snow: Now, because I have time! I am traveling less for away seasons. I am, in some ways reflecting on my career, and now I am doing it publicly together with Shelley.
You collaborated with your wife- can you tell us how you went about co-authoring and how the process worked for you both?
Snow: I initially began work on it myself. I wrote three unconnected chapters over the course of six months. And I realized that really I was trying to tell of “our” polo life. I would never have gotten to 10 goals without Shelley’s support and influence. Plus she’s a voice of reason and a great organizer. She agreed to give it a trial period (of working together on the book); it seemed to work and now here we are! I don’t know why it took me so long to come up with that idea! I think it’s a unique aspect to the book–the other voice that is seldom heard. And yet she’s also the Veterinarian, sometimes horse trainer, who is intimately linked with the horses that are going to the field to compete under me.
Can you share how ‘Zen’ enters into the story?
Snow: Zen alludes to many of the ingredients that were a part of Shelley’s and my secret sauce. If I had to pick a word: mindfulness. When you read it, you’ll see all the associations!
You’ve had many different types of jobs outside of polo- did any of those other skills translate into polo or help when writing the book?
Snow: Mine was an unconventional path to 10 goals, but I don’t think I could have done it any other way. So, yes, all those other things I did–college, other sports, even a very brief other career–contributed in their way towards my achievements in the sport of polo.
Polo seems to have followed you throughout your life—how important has it been for you to keep an open approach to life and trust the path that you are leading?
Snow: I always tried to choose the path with “heart”. So when to roads diverged, I tried to choose the one with feeling. I don’t think it’s about making right or wrong choices, I think it’s about moving forward to the next divergence and then sticking with your gut–one decision leads to another and eventually forms the person we are today.
Why do you feel like a book was the best way to tell this story, rather than an interview or other form of media?
Snow: A book […] allows the authors to get into their subject deeply. If Twitter is on one side of the spectrum, maybe a hard copy book is on the other. We want the reader to immerse in this polo life, and I don’t think there is a better way than a book (or movie!?). There are informative footnotes as well, for readers that wish to go even deeper!
What are you hoping that readers will take away from Polo Life?
Snow: I’m hoping the readers will find something to connect with: what this sport is really all about, a career of free agency, a couple’s travail and forming a partnership around horses, veterinary medicine and acupuncture, sports psychology, world travel … from Buenos Aires to Bandar Seri Begawan, a Dream Team (of horses), modern love, the reality of “life on the farm”, and the humility that comes with making lots and lots of mistakes along this windy road.
Is there anything that you wanted to put in the book, but didn’t make it in?
Snow: As Shelley and I got to the conclusion of Polo Life, I found myself wanting to discuss some of our “next steps” in more detail: my role w[ith] TUSPA (coaching and mentoring aspiring young players), being a “broadcast analyst” with NBC, Shelley’s White Lotus yoga instruction certificate … And excellent teaching! [T]he phenomenon of our three boys not being inclined to play polo–they are all soccer players! But the book had to end somewhere, so we made ourselves stop more or less with my HoF induction in 2014. The original idea was to publish Polo Life within a year of that event. Oh well! We’ll leave those topics for another time.
Was there anything surprising to you about writing Polo Life?
Snow: What surprised me most is how well Shelley and I have gotten along through a challenging experience. We are both opinionated and stubborn, and (hopefully I’m not speaking to soon, ha!) somehow we have grooved on collaborating on this challenge!
So, what’s next for you? Will you lean toward more creative projects in the future?
Snow: Our designer told us that books have a way of multiplying. I hope she’s right!
And we certainly hope she is, too!
A very special thank you to Adam Snow for his time sharing insights into Polo Life and the process both he and Shelley took to complete this remarkable story.
Ready to read Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen? It’s available on Amazon here!
Straight from the horses’ mouth: Hear more from Adam and Shelley Snow in this short video interview!