My first chukker
Last week was amazing! If you follow me on Instagram and snapchat (polopeopleplace) you saw, if not then go follow me! Well anyways I was around polo horses a lot and the highlight: I played my first chukker!!! It was an absolutely amazing experience being on the polo field with 7 other players, chasing the ball and trying to coordinate your moves with everyone elses.
I started my riding and polo journey only in April, when I had my first riding lesson in Bahrain, where I live. As there isn’t any polo in Bahrain I have had to just take regular General Practice lessons there and had polo lessons abroad. I had my first three lessons at the Grand Champions Polo Club in Florida and the next three lessons in the UK at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club with Roy.
Last week I was visiting my friends Sam and Tom in the UK (I also visited them last month which you can read about here) and they have a whole string of lovely polo ponies, which I got to bond with. Sam quickly suggested that I should join in and play in their weekly chukkers at their local polo club. Seeing as she is a polo instructor as well as a great lady polo player and an inspiration to me I figured it was a good idea.
The excitement was almost overwhelming, it was all I could think about in the days before. But at the same time I hardly had time to really think about it, cause I was constantly doing something. So all of a sudden it was Wednesday afternoon and we were loading the lorry with saddle pads, saddles, bridles, wraps and all of the other many things one needs to play polo and the ponies of course. We drove out to Eastwood Polo Club, where Tom and Sam are members and the afternoon chukkers were to take place. Again the hustle and bustle of preparing 10 ponies with all of the equipment took my mind off what was about to happen and suddenly I was up on Rocco with a mallet in my hand and ready to go!
I was extremely excited, but also a little anxious. Everyone was so very nice and welcoming and assured me that they would take care of me and that it would all be fine. I knew that they would and that they knew what they were doing, but I couldn’t help wonder if I was ready?! After all I had only had 6 lessons and what if I couldn’t handle the horse? Or if I rode in to someone else? Accidently hit someone with my mallet? Or if I fell off? Or made a complete fool of myself? Yup a lot of thoughts and doubts were going through my mind, but I guess you never feel quite ready until you actually do it, so I cleared my head and just said to myself: “You can do this!” and I gave Rocco a pat and asked him to take care of me.
Before I could hesitate any more the ball was in play and I was actually riding along with everyone else, not quite as fast as everyone, but at least in the right direction.
A few minutes (which felt both like seconds and hours, a weird phenomenon of time slowing down but at the same time passing by extremely fast) in to the chukker the ball was mine, I had the line and it was clear ahead, Rocco cantered, I set my mallet up high, waited for the perfect time to let it drop in the pendulum motion (hearing Roy’s voice in my head saying “wait!”) and the mallet head hit the ball, right in the sweet spot, making the distinct and wonderful clack and shooting the ball forwards. Rocco also heard the clack and shot forwards after the ball.
I could hardly believe it and inside my head was a little mini Diana dancing a victory dance chanting: “I am actually playing polo and I hit the ball!” but somehow I managed to stay focused on the ball (to be honest I had no clue what was going on behind me) Rocco was focused as well and heading straight to the ball, I set up my mallet in the air and swung it again just hoping for the best and I hit the ball again! Now I was absolutely ecstatic and let my pride and joy get the best of me shouting “I hit the ball, Sam did you see that? I hit the ball.”
But the play wasn’t over yet and we were all getting closer to the goalmouth, “Could I possibly hit it again?” I thought to myself, followed by a slightly over-confident “Sure I can” and then the excitement overwhelmed me, I swung my mallet too quickly and only grazed the top of the ball so it didn’t go far, but not to worry, my team mate was right behind me and tapped it in to the goal and the whistle was blown and the chukker was over with our team in the lead.
I was over the moon and so extremely pleased with myself with a smile from ear to ear and my entire body tingling with joy and I thought to myself “Yup, I am a polo player.” –well there is a long way to go, but I am sure I will get there! I didn’t think it was possible, but I love polo even more than I did before. What an amazing journey to be on and I can’t wait for the next step of this adventure.
Rocco was a superstar and deserved many kisses after that day.
Let me know in the comments field how your first chukker was and I gladly accept any advice for my next chukkers and in general for my “polo player in the making” adventure.