In the December issue, I introduced my story, and how my polo passion started while living in Buenos Aires. I watched the great talents of La Dolfina and Ellerstina in the Palermo Open final of 2010. Since that moment, I was hooked and have attended Polo tournaments in magnificent places, from Dubai to Palm Beach. It took me almost five years to make the move from a sideline spectator to ‘Polo player in the making.’ Having never been on a horse before, it was a challenging and scary beginning. Another factor that made it difficult for me to learn polo is that for the past year, I was living in Bahrain, where polo is not played at all. So it took a bit more planning and determination to get started.
I had hardly any clue what polo was six years ago. My family is not from an equestrian background and I have never had any interest whatsoever in horses or riding. But when I was introduced to polo on that unforgettable day in Palermo, Buenos Aires, it was love at first sight! Work and life got in the way of learning the noble sport for a while, so my passion was relegated to the sidelines. Eventually, my longing to learn could no longer be repressed.
I had to find a way! The first step, where? Although my job made it complicated since I was based in a country where polo does not exist, I was determined to make it happen somehow. From then on, whenever I had time off, I was chasing my dreams of learning to play polo.
After my first taste of swinging mallets from horseback in Florida, I was even more hooked and eager to get back on a Polo pony with a mallet in hand. Though there was no polo in Bahrain, I did manage to learn some horse riding—obviously an essential to play the game! As the weather in Bahrain reached scorching hot temperatures and the summer finally arrived in Europe, it was time to set my compass to NW and head to England.
My next polo lessons were in London, where so many of the greats in polo have battled through historic tournaments. My fourth polo lesson was at Berkshire with Roy Prisk, an amazing teacher and friend. Roy teaches with a great deal of patience and even more empathy. He wanted me to hit that ball just as much as I wanted to. With his continuous guidance and encouragement, along with frequent reminders, I finally managed to get the hang of it.
With the main points being—hug the horse with my legs, set my shoulders back and down, have my mallet arm straight when setting up for a hit, wait for the exact moment to drop the mallet, and make a pendulum motion from my shoulder and not my wrist!
I actually managed to hit the ball in the canter. This felt like the greatest achievement of all time! Such an immense feeling of pride, joy, exhilaration, strength, and the connection with the horse, mallet, and ball! That is exactly why people get hooked on Polo!
Before my lesson, I had the pleasure of meeting Fitness for Polo expert Martín Perez and he showed me some excellent moves for warming up before Polo and stretching out after.
Aside from being out in the countryside quite a bit on that trip to London, my two closest friends and I now have a tradition of attending Chestertons Polo In the Park event, held every summer in the Hurlingham Park in Fulham, Central London. We all fly in from our respective countries of residence to attend the event and support our friends playing in it. Although it is not high goal polo like the tournaments boasting stars like Cambiaso and any member of the Pieres family, it is such a fun weekend out, and I love the concept of bringing polo to the city and to the people. If I had it my way, everyone in the world would watch polo with as much enthusiasm as the Football World Cup! Another upside of these kinds of events is the excuse to dress up and put polo outfits together, which is always a fun part of being a spectator, along with sipping champagne.
After the weekend, it was time to jet off again. My destination: Denmark, for 48 hours, for the press day of the first Scandinavian Beach Polo World Cup, held at Hornbæk, one of Denmark’s most beautiful beaches an hour north of Copenhagen. With ponies and players, champagne, and the beach, we all had a great day out and got a slight taste of what was awaiting us in July. The organizers of the #ScandiBeachPolo are close friends of mine, so inevitably, I was delighted to be involved with the production of the tournament. I finally got to see how much hard work and how many details go into the planning and creating of these kinds of events. It is a labor of love.
After Denmark, it was back to London for the Queen’s Cartier Cup. Another fabulous event, showcasing the glamour, excitement, dedication, skill, and sheer fun that polo is about.
Often when something becomes a passion it takes over every aspect of your life. This is why we say that polo is a lifestyle and not just a sport. Cheers to an awesome year ahead, chukker on!