Thursday, September 10, 2015

polo clinic!! with helmet cam + gifs!!!

So I can occasionally be a little impulsive. The flyer advertising a polo clinic at our farm has been hanging on the bulletin board for a couple weeks now, but I had initially expected my September calendar of events to look a little different and therefore dismissed it as a possibility.

But plans changed, lessons were cancelled, and suddenly I had a little more free time (and unspent cash). Meaning playing polo sounded more and more like the perfect idea.

Bordick, Caballo and Guinness scrimmaging in group 1
Plus we played in the evening - MUCH more desirable than my typical midday weekend schooling rides, given how hot it's been.

I got there in time to watch group 1 finish up learning the basics and move on to the scrimmage. OMG guys it looked like so much fun!

it's been so dry out tho, the ring was dussssssty
I seriously could not get over all the cute taped up tails. Not entirely convinced the horses appreciated it (it's been super buggy lately) but I thought it made them look a little more sproingy and polo-y somehow.


We started out with introductions to the basic swings. The trainer April showed us the proper form (demonstrated above for the full swing) and had us give it a try while all in the center. Then we were off to toodle around the arena chasing after all the balls to get the hang of it while April shouted out encouragement.  

The swings we covered: half and full swing, back shots, and near side shots (tho I also inadvertently tried a couple neck shots). We also 'dribbled' a little bit, which is exactly what it sounds like.

does she look like cute polo pony?
The whole purpose of learning the optimal form and swing techniques was to A) keep it as easy as possible on us and let the laws of physics help things along; and B) avoid whacking the horse with the mallet. I was only partially successful on both these counts haha.

Particularly, my wrist quickly became sore from trying to do too much with it, rather than letting the weight of the mallet and the arc of my swing dictate the impact with the ball. I also struggled with swinging straight forward, as opposed to diagonally under Izzy's face (and maybe once or twice INTO her face, sorry mare!) - which April attributed to me not reaching back far enough to begin the arc of my swing. 

maybe if the polos were brightly colored instead of black?
Perhaps the biggest difficulty for me was getting my shoulders squared completely over the ball. If you can imagine that April was sitting on a horse in that demo gif above, it's clear that she'd be leaning all the way over to one side, balancing on her right foot and left knee. I kinda lacked the commitment necessary to take my shoulders so far away from 'center' - and it led to a lot of missed or weak swings. 

ahh yess, i see it now! she totally looks the part!
But wow - it was super fun to try! We maybe spent the majority of the clinic off on our own trying out all the swings at various speeds (tho I never really connected at the canter bc I wouldn't lean far enough over the side of the horse...) while also trying not to run into each other (there were six riders in the clinic). Made for pretty excellent helmet camera footage lol.


Isabel was mostly pretty game for it. I think she got a little flustered sometimes by all my shifting weight, and frequently drifted in the direction I was leaning so that the ball would end up right underneath her. And when I started trying to swing from her left side she got all irritated that I had changed the rules on her now that we were approaching the ball from a different side.

that tail wrap tho - too freakin adorable (even tho izzy hated it)
But really she was super good and obedient. (Tho to be honest, when I told trainer Dan that we tried polo he more or less disapproved, saying that I should probably ride a different horse to play with to avoid interfering with Isabel's training. Not entiiiiiiirely sure I agree... tho I guess he has a point. Meh, whatever, we don't have any competitions in the immediate future and one evening of polo isn't going to ruin Isabel).


Anyway, after everyone had more or less figured out how to hit the ball while remaining on the horse we moved on to the fun part: a scrimmage!!!! April went over some of the rules - like the 'line' of the ball - that I really only vaguely understand. Meaning I continuously fouled a couple riders, oops. And I'm still really unclear how defense works in this game.


BUT. Haha it was so much fun. Watching the video doesn't look like real polo at all bc most of the horses are wizened old lesson ponies with a distinct lack of 'zip.' That is, except for the two chestnut arabs haha (Isabel and my barn manager's dressage horse in the white bridle). 


My team lost the scrimmage 2-1, sadly - but not for a lack of trying!! We'll get 'em next time. Presumably if April comes back again we'll be able to skip most of the 'learning the basics' bit and go right into more scrimmaging.

Have you ever played? Any desire to?

34 comments:

  1. My husband and I go to Friday night polo all the time. I still don't understand the rules - lol! I just watch the pretty ponies run back and forth :)

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    1. oooh really? where do they play? is it the md polo club? haha i guess i need to look it up. i would love to actually watch a game. playing it was.... not my strong point lol (and why are the rules so confusing?!?) but watching it seems like a blast

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    2. Yes, Maryland Polo Club. They play in Jarettsville off of Rt 152 on Fri nite and Sun afternoon. Tailgating is encouraged :) And they have programs to help explain things... The season is over but we should totally do a meet up next year!

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    3. aw nuts, it figures that the season would be over now that i just learned about it haha. but YES this is absolutely something i would love to do!

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  2. Love the polo cam! So funny to see all the lesson ponies slooowwwllyyy chase the ball and wonder what the heck the humans are up to now...

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    1. haha yea... those lesson ponies... they really don't give anything away! did you hear me clucking at them? haha. it was fun tho and the helmet cam footage turned out as well as might be reasonably expected. #bestthingieverboughtmyself

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  3. OMG so fun!!!!!! I want to try!!!! But I don't think Penn would be as on board as Mikey would have been!

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    1. lol yea isabel wasn't quite as thrilled with it as i expected either, tho she did pretty much figure it out

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  4. That looks like so much fun, but I think both the saddle and I would slide off Max if I had to lean over that far to the side. Especially if we were moving at speed.

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    1. yea the moving at speed thing was not great - i really was too worried about leaning that far over the horse's side.... and i was using a different saddle that did actually shift to the side much more than i'd like... ah well, still fun!

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  5. Looks like so much fun, but it also looks SO difficult, haha. I'd probably have to use a soccer ball or something.

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    1. omg it was way harder than i expected!!! i actually may or may not still be sore through my shoulders nearly a week later!

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  6. If you like polo, checkout horseball- it's like rugby on horseback (: And a well-rounded pony is better than a burnt-out pony!

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    1. haha i did like it, but i'm not sure i want to actually pursue it. and i agree, i much prefer my horse to be well rounded and happy with variety. tho i also understand where dan was coming from about the training. if there are certain times when the transitions must be perfect always, but other times when they don't matter, it becomes a crap shoot for what i'll get in the show ring. but eh.... my priorities are a little different than his :)

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  7. Love this. It looks so fun! I have trouble hitting a golf ball while stationary not sure how polo players do it at speed.

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    1. haha yea idk either - i missed the ball a WHOLE BUNCH lol

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  8. that looks like so much fun!! we used to goof around a bit with polo in the winter when i was in high school to spice up lessons when it was cold. none of us were very good at it lol

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    1. that sounds like the perfect antidote to cold winter lessons

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  9. I took lessons and played for about a year when I lives in Kansas and it was the most fun I've ever had on a horse (sorry, eventing)!! I wasn't great at ball handling, but I was very good at maneuvering my horse to disrupt someone else's play. (It helped to have a horse that was totally into ramming other horses.)

    I tried polocrosse on Moe once; the instructor told me Moe had excellent "get up and go" but needed a lot of work on his brakes lolz

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    1. haha somehow that doesn't surprise me at all about Moe :) idk if isabel was great for it bc she didn't really love horses running at her, and kept trying to go laterally or backwards... not quite what i wanted!

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  10. Looks like super fun! I'd love to try, but think I need a smaller horse :)

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    1. lol yea it's definitely MUCH easier from a smaller creature. sure, they make longer mallets.... but that doesn't really make it much easier either

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  11. This looks super fun. I played polo in college. Was captain of the varsity team for 2 years. I loved it. I would switch back to polo in a heartbeat if I could afford it. It is my favorite equine sport.

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    1. really?!? interesting! it didn't strike me as something i could connect better to than jumping (probably bc i literally struggled to connect with the ball haha) but that it would be fun to play around with occasionally

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  12. I do want to try it! It looks so like so much fun! Was Isabel freaked out by the mallet at first? I feel like mine would terrified.

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    1. ha she kept trying to turn to look at it (which is part of why i might have beaned her in the face a couple times... so sorry mare!). but she's always been fine with me holding strange things and moving them around on her back, like traffic cones or pitch forks or jump standards....

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    2. haha she was probably thinking "just another weird thing my human carries!"

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  13. This looks like so much fun!! I'm so impressed that you could hit the ball, I feel like I'd really struggle with the hand-eye coordination, which is already bad but would be made even worse being on the back of a horse!

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    1. lol well.... in all honestly my hit rate wasn't that great (and i may or may not have edited out something like 44 minutes of me failing hilariously)

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  14. I've played polocross but not polo! Looks like fun :) and no worries about Izabel playing polo- I learned how to play polocross on my eventer, Johnny, when I was in high school- he really enjoyed it and he was fine afterwards :)

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    1. Haha that's good to hear. Somehow I doubted that one evening of playing around could undermine years of training.... But I guess that's one of the differences between a pro and ammy perspective lol

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  15. I have fostered a hidden dream to do polo for AGES now. I think Q could totally get into it. I KNOW Grififn could, but she looks so much more the part and I think it would be something she could excel at. LOVED this post.

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    1. You should definitely try it some time! I bet Q would be amazing at it! Really so long as the horse steers and goes you should be fine haha (brakes might help too lol)

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