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  • Writer's pictureKatie Smith

My Polo Experience (2015)

We are coming into the UK polo season so I thought it might be nice to write a post about my polo experience last year.

I went to my first ever polo tournament last year, it was the Warwickshire cup hosted at Cirencester Park. We went on Father’s Day as a family day out and we absolutely loved it! We loved the fast paced, exciting nature of the game and were instantly hooked.

We couldn’t wait to go back and then we had an idea. As I was already a keen and experienced rider, I thought it would be fun to give it a go myself. As we were already familiar with the Cirencester Park grounds and it wasn’t too far away, my Aunty booked me a polo experience day for my sixteenth birthday.

The day came around and we made the trip to Cirencester. When we arrived I was excited and a little bit nervous as I had never played a game like polo off of a horse. The closest I had come to it before was playing gymkhana games as a child!

There were only three people booked into my experience, myself and a couple who had booked as a seventieth birthday present. They had never ridden before.

We sat down with our instructor for the day, Tim, and he went through the basics of the game with us and asked us some questions. We all sat and had a cup of tea together and had a chat in the clubhouse.

Once we were all well acquainted there was nothing left to do but get stuck in. We first learnt the basic shots standing on the ground with shorter sticks. This got us used to the swinging motion of the shots and allowed us to learn the shots safely.

Next, we got onto the wooden horses and had a go with longer sticks. This got us used to the longer stick and also taught us to be aware of the position the horse would be in relation to ourselves and the stick, so we wouldn’t be putting the horses in danger when we had a go on horseback.

By this point, I had learnt a lot, but I was itching to get on a horse! I was introduced to my polo pony for the afternoon. She was called Natty and she had a lovely temper. It was a little bit different than riding normally as the saddle had no knee rolls and you have double reins which you have to hold in one hand, as the polo stick goes in the other hand.

We then went on a hack around the park. It was a lovely place to go for a ride and it felt great to get on a horse. We all got very close to our horses and learned a lot from them.

We got back from our hack and had a bit of stick and ball. This is an informal form of polo where you can just hit the ball around. We had a go in walk and trot and learned that the faster you are going, the harder it is to hit the ball! Nevertheless, I managed to get it from one end of the field to the other and through the posts. Goal!

We then got to have a lovely lunch in the club house and then watched the match that was going on afterwards. It’s fair to say that you respect the skill of the polo players much more after you have had a go yourself!

I had a great time and would love to have another go this year. I would really recommend it to anyone interested in polo, even if you haven’t ridden before… I would recommend Cirencester Park Polo Academy to anyone wanting to give it a go. 

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