By Susan Friedland-Smith (http://susanfriedlandsmith.com/)
Photos by Coy Gutierrez
It’s not unusual to scan through the pages of a fashion magazine and see models posing next to horses, sporting clothing and accessories from the equestrian world. What’s more out of the ordinary is when a model is a rider in real life — not just in front of the camera. Zinta Rewald of the Instagram account @zintapolo is just that — an accomplished polo player who has also ridden hunters and jumpers. High fashion model by day and horse lover 24/7, the stunning model from Los Angeles, whose client list includes such brands as BCBG, Lucky Brand Jeans, Nordstrom and Calvin Klein, has also taken the Instagram world by storm.
“Styling ideas for horse and rider not bound by traditional rules” is the tagline of Zinta’s account, where she gives advice to her almost 50,000 followers. Some of her posts show her galloping down the beach on a polo pony, while some are instructional including quick tips on how to take the best selfies, for example. “Take several shots at slightly different angles and different lighting to learn which you like best. Remember, no one looks good at every angle.” With wisps of escaped ponytail hair framing her chocolate brown eyes and a Mona Lisa smile, Zinta stands beside a dark bay horse mugging for the camera. It’s hard to imagine this equestrian having a single unflattering angle.
In another Instagram post, she advises horse girls going to music festivals to not overlook packing their paddock boots — the same ones worn daily to the barn. She recommends, “Just use a hard brush to take off those chunks of spring mud and don’t worry about polishing them. Their natural worn leather patina is very boho chic and in style with current fashion trends.”
Although Zinta enjoys modeling immensely, she said, “I don’t post about it regularly on my Instagram, because it is ‘my Instagram’ and reflects my heart, which is with the horses.”
Zinta usually spends every day with her horses when she isn’t working or traveling. “Often I’ll have the opportunity to ride or just spend time with the horses after a day of shooting,” she said.
How She Became a Horse Girl
Horses first mesmerized Zinta on a family trip to New Mexico when she about 7 years old. “It was winter and fresh snow was everywhere,” she said. “We were out for a walk in an area of farms and ranches and we came upon a pasture with a leopard Appaloosa. The horse seemed camouflaged in the white snow and black tree branches. He was friendly and approached us, and we got to pet him. That was the moment that I became horse obsessed.” Prior to meeting the Appaloosa, Zinta had enjoyed Breyers and My Little Ponies, but that defining moment in the snow gave her the desire to have her own horse one day.
That first horse was the handsome bay Macaroni, who’s still an important part of Zinta’s life — he makes regular appearances in the @zintapolo posts. Zinta enjoys riding her longtime friend in a bitless bridle and exploring the trails in Griffith Park. “When I got him, I’d take a long bus ride to see him every day after school. We didn’t have money for a horse, which is a luxury when living in a city, so I worked at the stable to help pay for him and my riding lessons. I figured out a way to save and make it happen. It helps me to be reminded of that.”
Although originally from Southern California, Zinta moved to Chicago for a few years where she began riding hunter/jumpers and did some showing. Although Zinta is focusing on polo for now, she hopes to return to the hunter/jumper world down the road.
Airs Above the Ground
At age 14, Zinta saw her first polo match in Chicago and knew she wanted to try it. Before becoming a competitive polo player, from childhood through her early teen years, Zinta was a circus performer specializing in aerial arts. She enjoyed it immensely, but then her modeling career took off.
Something about flying appeals to Zinta. In addition to jumping fences, galloping on a polo field and her aerialist background, Zinta began flying helicopters several years ago and even got her pilot’s license. “I like the technical aspects of this type of flying, and decided to go back to school to obtain my commercial pilot’s license with the idea that maybe one day this will be my career,” she said.
When she’s not in the saddle or in the air, Zinta enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures. She studied Mandarin at a university in China and then backpacked through China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal. “I love trying new things and immersing myself in new adventures,” she said. Painting and sketching have always been a creative outlet for Zinta, and now she’s learning photography. With an active modeling career including significant travel, a string of polo ponies and her varied non-equestrian passions, it’s safe to say there’s never a dull moment for Zinta.
A Win-Win Proposition
Zinta met her husband through polo — at the club where she first took lessons. “He was there training a team for a tournament in Menlo Park, California, definitely a win-win!” she said. Zinta and her husband, Jeffrey Rewald, have built great friendships through polo and have played at some incredible locations, from California’s Santa Ynez Valley to the Great Wall in China. A dream she looks forward to realizing is one day playing polo in Argentina.
Zinta and her ponies have had special wins this year, including the USPA Constitution Cup and the USPA Amateur Cup, both in Scottsdale, Arizona. Last year they won the Thanksgiving Day Arena Tournament at Empire in Indio, California. Zinta claims that what makes the victories especially sweet are the fun times spent with family and friends. “Recently there was a fun win at Empire Polo Club’s 1 Goal Stagecoach Tournament because the team was made up of two families; my husband and I played with a father and son. We ride and then we eat together and share laughter.”
Zinta is scheduled to play in the Bentley Scottsdale Horses & Horsepower Polo Championships on November 5, 2016. This annual event, now in its sixth year, has drawn the largest number of spectators of any polo match in the United States. “It’ll be my first time playing in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people and I’m very excited,” she said.
Zinta and her husband find joy in helping adults try polo for the first time as well as young players learn both riding and the sport. “How fantastic it is to witness the abundant, unique exhilaration they experience for the game enjoyed by myself and countless others dating back thousands of years,” she said.
Special thanks to:
Photographer Coy Gutierrez, www.coygutierrez.com.
Hair and makeup artist Justin StClair.
The Circle JB Polo Ranch — photo shoot held at their beautiful ranch.
About the writer: Susan Friedland-Smith, a middle school history teacher who has been horse-crazy since girlhood, lives in North Tustin, California. Her OTTB Tiz A Knight is the main character of the blog Saddle Seeks Horse (susanfriedlandsmith.com), which chronicles her amateur adventures and “the real horse life of Orange County.” Find her on Twitter @SaddlSeeksHorse and Instagram @SaddleSeeksHorse.