Zinta - A Fine Balance

Zinta - A Fine Balance

Zinta Braukis knew horse riding was her destiny from a young age. When most of her friends began growing out of their “I want a pony” phase, her’s only became stronger and developed into an obsession. When not taking her horses to the beach, on trail rides or competing on the field, Zinta applies her poise and dedication to another profession: modelling. Recently, tucked away in the Idyllic mountains of Indio, California, The Polo Project caught up with the LA-based, free-spirit to chat about her unshakable passion for horses.

Tell us a little bit about how and when you starting playing polo?
I always loved horses as a child. I saw my first polo match when I was 14. When I had the opportunity to try the sport myself, I loved it.

How would you describe the relationship between you and your horses?
It truly is a special relationship that develops. As with people, each horse’s personality is unique. It takes time and interaction. We both learn to adjust to the other. I teach them to trust me. With problem horses this is a challenge, because before we get them they have developed bad habits, or don’t trust the people around them for good reasons. I teach them that a better relationship, one of trust and mutual respect is possible. It is an immense joy to see them flourish as a result, both in their personality and as an athlete. Our horses learn to have confidence, not only with us, but with others, we go on beach and trail rides, we ride them in parades, they are used in photo shoots; and they can still show up at a field and play competitive polo. With some of our horses the relationship has become so close and unified they are competing in polo matches in bitless bridles, needing only the lightest touch on the reigns.

How do you juggle modelling and polo playing, when both require such a high level of commitment?
My modelling keeps me very busy. Many weeks I shoot nearly every day and the days can vary dramatically depending on whether it is a location shoot, a studio shoot, runway, or a special appearance. I don’t post that often about it on my Instagram, because I prefer posting about my passions: horses, polo and equestrian style. I often ride in the evening after shoots and on nearly every day off. Some weeks there are many flights back and forth between shoot locations and polo events. Polo matches only take a few hours, so it is not unusual for a half day shoot to be set up in the same city following that day’s polo event.

Is there a trick to balancing this type of dedication and everyday life?
Having a supportive husband really helps. He also plays and is passionate about the sport, so we work together to make the most out of each day.

To paraphrase Alexander the Great, “The world is the ball, I am the mallet!”

How do you prepare for a polo game?
First, it is making sure the horses are fit and prepared, mentally and physically, for the level of play. We will set up fun practice games and polo drills that I can work on specific skills and be in tune with each horse. As for staying in polo shape, I jog; I usually run in intervals of 7.5 minutes (the length of each chukker in a game) to keep with the spirit of the sport. I also do yoga to work on flexibility, while building strength. On game days I make sure I get to the field early enough to stretch and then warm up my horses and my swing. I frequently do riding exercises with no stirrups to warm up my riding muscles. As a team, it is very helpful to practice together. We will often watch polo videos and discuss strategy. Very often it is the side that plays closest as a team that wins, as opposed to the strongest individual players.

Has growing up playing polo influenced your personal style?
Polo certainly plays a part in it. The style I have developed is a combination of equestrian pieces from many horse disciplines, with fashion pieces from clients I work with.

What can we expect from you next?
To paraphrase Alexander the Great, “The world is the ball, I am the mallet!”