Caroline Anier, from France, is a former 4-goal, professional player, umpire, and recent finalist in the USPA United States Open Women’s Polo Championship at Houston Polo Club.
Polo Lady interviewed Caroline Anier as an umpire, not the iconic player that she was—the second-highest handicapped woman after Claire Tomlinson.
How long have you been playing and since when did you start umpiring?
“I have been playing since I was 15, so 37 years ago. I have been umpiring since I started playing as a club duty and professionally umpiring since professional umpiring began.”
What makes umpiring interesting?
“For me, it is a better way to know the game, know all the rules, and see it from an umpire’s point of view when I play. I also feel more humble when I play, as I know how difficult it is to umpire.”
What do you find the most difficult about umpiring?
“Keeping control of the match at all times, even when some players are making it very challenging by being on the edge of playing dangerously.”
Is umpiring in Ladies’ Polo very different?
“Yes, they have more respect from the umpire’s calls. It is less challenging.”
What is your opinion on ladies’ handicaps?
“It is a great thing. It is now almost all over the world and the system makes it more even and fair.”
Do you have specific criticism over the rules?
“I want a fast and not dangerous game. So any rules that don’t enforce that, I dislike. Tapping the ball under your opponent numerous times to change the line and gain ground at a walk or a small canter is not right for me. In the US, there is a ‘one tap rule,’ which takes care of that and very much opens the game. Also, the rules of no turning on the ball either side are reinforced in the US. It makes the game much faster and more interesting for the sponsors as well as the spectators.”
Would like to see anything changed?
“Yes. One, to reinforce the penalty number 1 that is rarely called (in France, at least). And two, to see more umpire meetings so more people are involved and know the rules or how to interpret them.”
What are your best tactical tips?
“Really study what the opponents are riding and in what chukka.”
What are the things that players should practice on to improve themselves?
“Their swing and their riding. We never ride well enough!”