Last October I donned a ball gown to attend my friend Sue's glamorous 1940's war time themed ball. Well I think the champagne and the red lipstick went to my head, because at the charity auction I bid on, and won, a 2 hour Introduction to Polo lesson! Well, my that sounds posh if I do say so myself.
So finally 5 months later, I finally get around to doing it. Sue was keen to help me enjoy, or endure....my experience and offered to have me up at hers, since she lives 5 minutes away from the UK's largest polo club - The Hertforshire Polo club. It's not well signed or advertised, because not even Sue knew that. Anway, after a lovely light lunch at Sues; Sue, her mum and I ventured over to get my lesson started.
I expected a young stud of an English Polo player to take me through my paces, you know like Prince William or something, but Sue and I were a little disapointed that the Senior coach was actually, well senior. Lovely chap, and quite a quirky sense of humour to boot, but not really the eye candy that we were hoping for. LOL.
Anyway firstly we got a mini history lesson in where Polo came from; back from the Mongolians, who started by after a bit of a war by chopping of peoples heads (whilst on horse back) and smacking them around the ground with their swords. Humm, not to pleasant, but eventually they figured heads were a bit messy and used bamboo root balls and bamboo sticks. It then travelled to India, where the Brits came along decided it was quite a bit of fun, stole it back to England, where they added all the rules and regulations. Following on from that an American guy took it to Argentina where, well they took off with it, its a national sport, bigger than football (and we know how much the Argentinians love their footy) and now have about 40 top teams all better than the best English team - ater all in Argentina they are practically born on horse back!!
Ok history sorted, I get taken out to stand on a box, feet apart (pretending I am on a horse), to learn how to hit the ball around using the stick. I will refer to it as the stick, as he never mentioned a more technical term than that!! Oh and I learn that it is not croquet on horseback, you use the wide side of the stick! Ha how funny.
Then, I get introduced to the lovely, but incredibly lazy (thank goodness, I didn't want a horse that wanted to gallop off) Mimosa. She was very sweet and certainly paid no heed to my pathetic attempts to kick her to make her move much. It's a bit different on a horse for polo, as when you ride normally you have the reins in both hands, but where you are expected to hold a stick in one hand, then reins, and whip (not to hit them with, but apparently they respond better if you have it as they fear the thought that you might use it) in the other it gets a little trickier.
Firstly, we went out just on the horses, to get my riding legs and to ensure that I could get Mimosa to go left and right, and well just move in general - like I said, she was a bit lazy, and I was a bit pathetic according to my coach at kicking her. Well I didn't want to hurt her!!! Oh and Mimosa is a polo pony, so they are littler than normal horses (thus why all the guys playing polo look like they have really long legs). Cute.
Next was an updated lesson to ensure I was ready to get out there and try it for real - oh and I also was told the rules of the game (of which there aren't actually that many). Then off we went. I had a ball, seriously there is a lot to remember, but once I was out there all I wanted to was hit than damn ball, and I nearly forgot I was on a horse, but for the fact that my legs were already killing me. I can see how it takes years to learn, it's quite one thing riding a horse, but another to learn to hit a ball, not wack the horse, follow the rules, not hit other people and the game is amazingly fast too.
So that was that, it was great fun for a laugh, but sadly I don't think its going to be my next hobby as much as I'd love to give it a go. Its certainly not a poor mans sport, at 950 quid for 20 hours of lessons - that and when you do finally become good at the game you have to join the club and buy two horses, oh and your also expected to drum up others to play, sponsor you and end up with your own fabulous team. Hummmm. I don't think so.
Anyway, my next Polo adventure will be during the summer when we are going to make a day of watching a polo tournament with frocks and picnics on the sidelines (a bit Pretty Woman style). I cannot wait, and I can at least be guaranteed not to be walking like John Wayne at the end of that day!
What a gorgeous horse!
Sitting in the club rooms for my intro!
Me and my Polo veteran
The practice pitch
Walking back to the horses
Practicing the moves on the box
Getting into it
Me on Mimosa, a lovely filly
Getting saddled up
We are on the move
Out on the pitch,oops missed it.
Getting shown how its done
On the move and I hit it - woohoo!
Missed so turning around, damn
My teacher in action
My teacher the Senior Coach
This looks impressive
Doing ok, but Mimosa looks bored...
Ouch my hand, but it was fun!