My First Arena Polo Lesson at El Sur Polo Club
I have been trying to learn polo for almost three years now. My excuse for not being amazing yet is the inconsistency in my learning experience, so blaming my #crewlife and moving around all the time for that one. In no way my general capabilities on the horse ; ). I started on a big green field and that’s where I have been learning all over the world, but on this sunny and warm afternoon in Wellington, Florida, I had my first arena polo lesson at El Sur Polo Club and Polo School.
As always I had little butterflies fluttering in my stomach, two months somehow passed by since my last polo lesson at La Tarde Polo Club, Argentina, and my usual jitters once I’ve been away a while, kicked in again. Matias “Tute” Obregon greeted me and introduced me to Romeo, “O Romeo, Romeo!” I finally found myself a Romeo! Go figure he’s a horse, haha. Tute reassured me that Romeo is super chill and nice, borderline lazy (perfect match for me, I thought) and handed me my mallet and whip.
Surprisingly I immediately felt comfortable and started cantering. Usually, it takes me a few rounds and a lot of rising trot before I give that extra squeeze. I guess the confined space of the arena and reassurance that Romeo was a true gentleman, put me at ease and made me feel relaxed and confident.
I did a few rounds of “freestyle” for Tute to see and assess what I know and which habits I have picked up along the way. I felt proud when he was surprised to learn that my first time on a horse was less than three years ago, he thought I was a horse person before and just started polo then, kudos to my riding skills, although he still needed to adjust my half seat position. How can something that is half, be so hard to get fully right?!
Then we practised hitting the ball around. There are a few differences between arena polo and grass polo.
- The ball is larger and inflated, which is in a way easier to hit as the surface of it is bigger, but harder to get it to go where you want it to, for the same reason.
- There are walls around the arena, which can be used as an “extra player” to bounce the ball off. I was just thinking of how much it would hurt if I crashed into the wall, but I guess I just need to get used to it and maybe not crash into it. Relying on Romeo for that.
- Less players and smaller field of play.
Otherwise it’s mostly the same, check out the Polo A-Z glossary here.
Tute noticed that I was too focused on the ball, on where I was going, almost as if I had blinders on. That’s no good in a game, as you need to be aware of your team-mates, your opponents and everything else around you. So Tute spread out a bunch of balls and told me to canter around and when he shouted something I had to look at him first and then look at the ball he pointed to and go as quickly as I could to shoot it. It was fun, slightly frustrating the one time I missed it completely, but mostly I managed and it got me out of my seat and looking around a lot more.
At the end I did a few penalty shoots, the aim was, of course, to get the ball to hit the goal with only one hit, but if it fell short I had to hit it again until I got it in.
That hour passed by in a flash and even with sore muscles, I did not want to get off. I can’t wait for my next lesson with Tute and Romeo.
To make things more fun, and we all know that you learn and do more when it’s fun, Tute is doing a polo clinic for beginners like me. Three days of group lessons followed by a final day match, running Thursday through Sunday with a barbecue to celebrate at the end, the whole package is an absolute steal of a bargain at $600.00. A great way of kick-starting that #PoloPlayerInTheMaking adventure. Send me an e-mail at Diana@PoloPeoplePlaces.com and I will hook you up. They will run all weekends in March, so make sure to book your spot asap.