A fourth-generation and professional polo player, Nic Roldan made history at 15 when he became the youngest player ever to win the United States Open Polo Championship—a distinction he still holds. His talent is immeasurable, and so is his passion for improving the lives of equines around the world.
Roldan is the first polo player to become an ambassador for Brooke USA. In that new role he hopes to increase awareness of the condition of working horses and the people who rely on them in some of the world’s most destitute countries.
Brooke USA supports the overseas work of the Brooke, the largest international equine welfare charity with a long track record of successfully improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in impoverished regions of the globe. The Brooke has been providing sustainable solutions to many equine welfare issues for 82 years. Last year alone the Brooke reached 1.8 million equines, benefiting 10 million people in countries where many people earn less than a dollar a day.
A seasoned polo player since the age of six, Roldan’s name is on the trophies of almost every leading polo tournament in the U.S. He has won on five continents at every goal level and continues to gain worldwide acclaim. His goals are to increase awareness and participation for the sport at all levels and reach the highest accolade, ten-goal status.
Simultaneously, it is important to Roldan to be an advocate for the horses that have worked so hard for his sport throughout his career. He makes his living from the horses he works with, so the Brooke’s mission to help working horses and the people who depend on them resonated with him. He instantly felt a connection with the organization.
“I play polo for a living, and horses are my form of work; they’re my form of income as well. So Brooke USA was something that felt really close to my heart and something that really caught my attention,” said Roldan.
Also driven by the opportunity to gain a global perspective on issues surrounding equine welfare, Roldan is excited about the opportunity to give back and join the Brooke USA team.
“Being Brooke USA’s first polo ambassador is obviously huge, and it’s a big step for me,” he said. “It’s a big responsibility, and it’s an honor as well. I really want to carve the way and set the pace in the hope that many more people in the sport will join me. It’s not all about taking, but it’s about giving as well.”
The Brooke gives back through direct veterinary intervention and educational programs that teach owners and service providers how to improve their animal husbandry skills. The Brooke reduces suffering for animals that otherwise live and work in a chronic state of exhaustion, dehydration and malnourishment from crippling injuries, abuse and disease.
Roldan supports the Brooke’s efforts and hopes to emphasize the importance of education. “I don’t think most people in my world are aware of what’s going on in much of the rest of the world in terms of working animals,” he said. “Having the privilege of being in an equine sport in the U.S. makes us obligated to improve the welfare of donkeys, mules and horses in much less fortunate countries. The animals are suffering because their owners don’t know any better. What the Brooke does is great in bringing education to the owners and free veterinary care to the animals.”
Roldan’s passion for improving the lives of horses is also reflected in his commitment to put horses first. When one of his own horses had back issues, he put a team together with PoloGear USA to rethink the design of the polo saddle. The team drew inspiration from other disciplines to ensure their horses were as comfortable as possible. Whether through his charity work or by taking matters into his own hands, Roldan does everything he can for horses.
Dr. David Jones, Chairman of Brooke USA, stated, “We couldn’t be happier to welcome Nic Roldan as an official Brooke USA Ambassador. He brings talent, passion, and a sincere devotion to equine welfare to the table. His world view, coupled with his compassion for animals and the less fortunate, are a powerful combination and will ultimately help us to improve the lives of countless more working equines and the people who depend on them in communities around the world.”
Roldan will travel to one of the Brooke’s projects in Guatemala later this year. He is looking forward to seeing for himself the plight of working equines and the difference that the Brooke is making in one of the 11 countries where it has programs.
“Mostly in the polo world and in the equestrian world, we live in sort of a bubble, where everything is seen from this side of the window, where everything is done perfectly,” he said. “I think we maybe take all of this for granted, and until you actually travel to some of these less fortunate countries, and see exactly what’s going on, I don’t think you really get that feeling and emotion and idea of what’s happening. I’m really looking forward to being able to make a difference and give my time and to learn more about what’s going on.”
Roldan will join an impressive list of Brooke USA ambassadors, including Olympic dressage double gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin; internationally renowned “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts; Olympic dressage medalist Debbie McDonald, and top sport horse owner Margaret Duprey, among others.
“I know it’s always an uphill battle with something of this magnitude, but the Brooke seems to be doing an amazing job,” said Roldan. “They’ve reached out to millions of horses, mules and donkeys around the world, and I’m excited to reach out to many more.”
Brooke USA is headquartered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington and exists to support the work of the Brooke in countries throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central America.
For more information about Nic Roldan, please visit his website www.nicroldan.com. For more information about Brooke USA, contact Cindy Rullman, 859-296-0037, Cindy.Rullman@BrookeUSA.org, or visit the website www.BrookeUSA.org.