The Five Ways your Life Changes When you Learn to Play Polo

The Five Ways your Life Changes When you Learn to Play Polo

From the outside polo looks like any other sport, a hobby to pursue in your free time. But all those that play polo or are learning to play polo will agree that that’s not exactly true. Polo can very quickly become all consuming. It comes with a lifestyle all its own. And before long you’ll start to notice that it’s changed your life in a few different ways.

1.     Polo, Polo, Polo

For starters, your mind starts to think about polo, all the time. And especially in the summer on nice days, other plans take a backseat to polo because the field polo season is short and a polo match coming together is a little like a perfect storm, it requires the coordination of a minimum of 8 player’s schedules, upwards of 16 horses, playable fields and sunny and dry weather in the least. So when the email comes through that a match is happening you’ll suddenly find yourself dropping what can be dropped so you can make it out to the fields in time to get your fix of polo. And if for whatever reason you can’t move things around to make it to the match, you’ll find yourself thinking about the match, the ponies and the other players out there enjoying the summer evening on the field. 

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2.     Your New Favorite App

As mentioned above, polo is an incredibly weather dependent sport. Learning to play polo comes with an appreciation for just how long it takes the grass on a polo field to dry in order for the field to be playable. The weight of the horses and the speed that they move and stop at mean that a polo field has to be dry, but not too dry that the grass gets burned. It’s a perfect balance. And it can take days after rain before the field is playable again. Because of its weather dependent nature, you’ll quickly find that the Weather Network app and the radar, in particular, become your new favorite/most used apps as you watch like a hawk for storms passing through and count the drying days until you can get back out on the field again.

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3.     White Pants become more than just a Fashion Accessory

The official game attire of polo players is white pants, jeans to be specific, and every polo player has their own favorite brand/cut/style of white jeans they use for polo. So while everyone else watches for sales on white jeans at Ralph Lauren and Levi’s to keep in pristine condition and wear for those hot summer smart casual occasions. Polo players watch for sales on their tried and true favorites to top up their collection of stained and marked ‘whites’ for their next tournament or match. And the rule about only wearing white pants between May 24th and Labor Day doesn’t apply to polo players, white jeans are a staple in any player’s wardrobe and not for fashion’s sake.

4.     Argentina moves to the top of your Travel Bucket List

Spend enough time with ‘gauchos’ and professional polo players from Argentina (and yes these are people you will meet and spend time with in polo) and hear them speak longingly about their farms and estancias located in the pampas just outside Buenos Aires and you’ll quickly find that Argentina moves to the top of your list of ‘must visit’ countries. And it’s not exactly the kind of place you can go once as a polo player, once you’ve experienced the Argentine polo lifestyle it’s hard to forget and even harder for it to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip.

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5.     Meat becomes a staple of your diet

Meat is a staple in most polo player’s diets largely because of the tradition of celebrating matches and polo related activities with an Asado or Argentine barbecue. It seems to be the go to catering option in the polo world and polo players aren’t kidding when they say they may average between two and four asados per week in the heart of the summer polo season. And if you do make it to Argentina you may find yourself going vegetarian for a little while when you return home because of just how much meat you consumed while there.

 

Of course, polo changes your life in more than just the above ways, but we can’t give all the changes away. We have to let you experience some of them for yourself. Give polo a try to see the other ways it will change your life…for the better. 

The Best Reasons Why Now is a Good Time to Learn to Play Polo

The Best Reasons Why Now is a Good Time to Learn to Play Polo

There’s plenty of good reasons why now is a good time to learn to play polo besides the obvious of it being a fun and adrenaline filled sport with an exciting lifestyle to boot.

For starters, the long-awaited arrival of summer weather means that the Toronto Polo season is at its peak with all the players migrating from indoor and all-weather outdoor arenas to the huge grass fields located just north of the city. When you’re standing field side, you’d never believe that you’re only about an hour and a half from the downtown core. And if playing isn’t for you, watching the horses and players fly around 10-acre fields that are kept in perfect condition chasing a little white ball is a pretty great way to enjoy the Toronto summer and escape the heat and congestion of the city.

Polo also provides an excuse to get outside and enjoy the summer weather. Imagine finishing up at your office a little early to end your day out in the country getting some exercise and learning something new. It really is simple and accessible. We offer one-day introductory polo clinics, a way to get your feet wet and see what the world of polo is really all about, and if you like what you see our eight-week polo school can take you from a complete beginner and make you into a novice polo player in a manner of weeks.

And once you’ve gone through the learning process, polo just keeps giving. Winston Churchill once said; “A polo handicap is a passport to the world,” because learning to play polo and earning that coveted handicap, even if it is just a -2 (the lowest possible handicap), literally opens up a world of opportunities for you. Polo is played over 70 countries worldwide and has a strong culture of travel and hospitality surrounding it. ‘Polo Holidays’ are a very real thing, and players that hail from colder climates, i.e. Toronto, often find themselves searching out the warm weather and green grass at least once a year when they’re suffering withdrawal from the adrenaline rush that is field polo. The most popular destinations for polo holidays are Florida, the Caribbean, and of course Argentina (the modern mecca of polo) but if you look hard enough you can find polo anywhere you happen to be traveling.

The global network of clubs, players and teams gladly opens its arms to you once you’ve learned to play and before long you’ll find yourself fielding invitations to far corners of the globe to play with friends and acquaintances you’ve crossed paths with at some point or another on some polo field or another. And it’s not just an acceptance to the global community of players you gain by learning to play.

You also gain an acceptance to the local community of players, in this case, the Toronto Polo community, when you learn to play. Polo is a very community-based sport with a thriving social aspect and every polo player wants more players to join the sport because that means more people to play with. With more players comes more competition; polo suffers without new players and players get bored of playing with the same people all the time, they like having new minds and horses out on the field to shake things up.

And no polo outing is complete without some form of socializing, however minor, it is a team sport after all. From stomping divots to sitting around the clubhouse or pony lines before and after the match to a post-game debrief over slow cooked meat Argentine barbecue style, there really is no shortage of socializing in the polo world. 

Of course, people only make up half the polo equation, horses being the other half. And if you love horses, this is the sport for you. While it’s similar to other horse sports in the sense that it features a human-equine partnership, it’s different in the sense that in addition to that partnership there is also the human teamwork aspect. The polo ponies are also stunning creatures, and once you’ve felt the full power of what they can do you’ll never be able to go back to riding regular horses. It’s part of what makes the sport so addictive and appealing.

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As we’ve hinted at before, polo comes with a lifestyle and a culture all it’s own, a result of it’s long (2500 year) history and its presence all over the world. Certain traditions in the sport can be traced back as far as the sport’s origins in Persia others to colonial India, and many to the current dominance of the sport in Argentina, for instance the large presence of Spanish heard on the field. As a polo player you get to meet people from all over the world, learn about new cultures and the slight variations in different culture’s approaches to polo, while being a part of the unique ‘polo culture’ and maybe even a part of history. What more could you want from a new hobby?

Not to mention, learning to play now will mean that you’ll be able to enjoy the best part of the summer and fall seasons in Toronto and be ready to participate in the annual player’s pilgrimage to Argentina this November. And even in the cold winter months, the Toronto polo season continues to function albeit in a slightly different format than in the warm summer months with the players and ponies moving indoors for arena polo and with the perfect conditions outside for snow polo. So there’s always a way to satisfy your desire to play once you’ve been infected with the ‘polo bug’.

So, are you convinced yet? Want to sign up for our next one-day introduction to polo clinic? Check our events page for dates or email us at info@polomanagement.com for details and updated schedules. 

Rainy Day Polo Reading List

Rainy Day Polo Reading List

Rain means wet fields and wet fields means no polo which for polo players is pretty much a nightmare. And short of taking up water polo, there's nothing that can be done to stop the rain and speed up the drying of the fields. So while you’re stuck inside watching the puddles form we’ve compiled a polo reading list so you can make use of all that time that can’t be spent playing polo.

Over the course of polo’s long history as a sport, a number of books have been written about it. And there’s a little something for everyone. From trashy fiction set in the world of high goal polo to historical ‘how to play’ manuals and up to date non-fiction books about how to improve your game and handicap. We’ve compiled a list of our favorites for those rainy days when the weather just won’t cooperate.

 

1.     Polo by Jilly Cooper

No list of polo books would be complete without the cult classic Polo by Jilly Cooper. Thoroughly researched and exhaustingly detailed (in a good way), Cooper takes you inside the scandalous world of high-goal polo in the 1980’s. While you may not learn anything about improving your own game, you will get to escape the real world for a couple hundred pages (more like 800 pages) as you delve into the world of Ricky France-Lynch, Perdita MacLeod, Rupert Campbell Black and all the other fascinating characters Cooper has thought up. The story takes you on a whirlwind trip through the polo world from the polo fields in England to Palm Beach, Argentina, California, and France among other destinations.

 

2.     The Polo Season Series by Jessica Whitman and Nacho Figueras

A new release in the genre of polo themed fiction, the Polo Season Series is comprised of three separate books; High Season, Wild One, and Ride Free that all follow the lives of members of the Del Campo family polo dynasty. They’re a light read that still manage to satisfy your polo craving and they’ve got Nacho Figueras’ name on them…so even if the story lines are trashy you know that the polo information is accurate.

 

3.     Polo Life by Adam Snow and Shelley Onderdonk

Polo life veers off the path of trashy polo themed fiction towards something that might actually improve your game or at the very least provide insight into what it takes to survive the world of high goal polo. Written by Adam Snow (former 10-goal player) and his veterinarian and wife Shelley Onderdonk the book covers everything from what it’s like to play as a pro to what it’s like to achieve 10 goals, tips for finding and buying the right horses and how to best care for them among other topics. Interspersed throughout are anecdotes from Onderdonk and Snow’s life in the world of polo which makes all the factual information go down easier. Well worth the read for anyone curious about the world of high goal polo and what it takes to survive in it.

 

4.     The Maltese Cat by Rudyard Kipling

Now for a classic, Kipling’s The Maltese Cat takes you inside the mind of a polo pony on the day of a match in colonial India when polo was still a cavalry based sport. Hailed as “the greatest and most enjoyable story ever written about the game of polo and one of the greatest stories ever written from a pony’s point of view” it’s a must read for any polo fanatic. And at only 63 pages long (depending on the edition), it’s one of the shorter books on this list.

 

5.     Let’s Talk Polo by Sunny Hale

Sunny Hale was one of the world’s most famous female polo players until she passed away suddenly this past winter. Thankfully, her wisdom and experiences will remain with us as she’s documented them all in her book Let’s Talk Polo. Her book covers everything from Stick and Ball to practice games, the language of polo, tournaments, polo ponies, mallets, and tips. Short and to the point, it’s the ideal guide for the new polo player to get their feet wet.

 

6.     Let’s Talk About Your Handicap by Sunny Hale

Another addition to the Let’s Talk series by the late Sunny Hale, she goes more into depth on issues surrounding polo handicaps. The book answers all the questions you’ve ever hand about polo handicaps from the basics to how to improve your handicap, she’s covered it all.

 

7.     Polo by J. Moray Brown

Written in the late 1800’s, Polo by J. Moray Brown was the how to guide of it’s century. Nowadays some of the tips are a little out of date but it’s nevertheless a cool read for those looking to get a sense for polo’s long history.

 

8.     Modern Polo by Captain E. D. Miller

The name Modern Polo can be a little misleading with this book, it’s also a how to guide from another century but still a cool read for those wanting to understand the polo of the past and see what’s changed in the decades since. Also a good read in the historical category is As to Polo by William Cameron Forbes.

 

9.     Polo by Susan Barrantes

Polo is the ultimate coffee table book for anyone who has ever wanted to play or does play polo. Complete with beautiful photos and a foreword by the Prince of Wales it does not disappoint.

 

Other Polo Related Books:

·      The Golden Mallet by Elizabeth Y. Layton

·      Let’s Talk Polo Ponies by Sunny Hale

·      Polo: The Nomadic Tribe by Aline Coquelle

·      Playmaker Polo by Hugh Dawney

·      The Complete Guide to Polo by Lauren Dibble

No Small Feat

No Small Feat

In the past few weeks, we’ve been involved with shipping some polo ponies from Argentina to Canada. 

No doubt, shipping horses is a fairly regular occurrence, but what makes this particular shipment stand out was the sheer volume of ponies that were shipped to Canada. A grand total of 87 polo ponies made up the shipment that very nearly filled the inside of a Boeing 747 cargo plane.

They landed at Hamilton International Airport on May 4th and were greeted with our typical early spring weather of cool, damp rain. Definitely a drastic change from the climate they’d grown used to in Argentina. Nevertheless, they remained patient as they were all unloaded from the plane, and taken over to a warehouse where they were removed from their shipping boxes (after upwards of 10 hours in them). They were then checked over by vets and customs and given food and water. Once each horse was given the ‘all clear’ they were loaded into waiting trailers which took them to the quarantine barn located at Pampa Norte Polo Farm in Alliston, Ontario where they would serve out their quarantine period.

The processing of all 87 polo ponies and their subsequent loading into trailers took the better part of the day and they finally made it to Alliston later in the evening. Once they were unloaded and checked once again by customs they settled in to their quarantine stalls where they would remain for approximately the next two weeks.

They received constant monitoring and tests throughout their quarantine period and were released at long last on May 23rd at which point they were taken to their new homes all over Ontario and the Northeastern United States.

Taking into account the pre-flight quarantine that took place in Argentina, the flight itself and their Canadian quarantine period these horses have been in transit and unable to just be horses since the end of March making their release last night even sweeter. Despite all the stress and confusion these horses were under they all remained patient and calm throughout the entire ordeal. What a bunch of troopers!

We can’t wait to see what these ponies can do on the field once they’ve had a chance to settle in and relax.

*For those curious about how much an equine plane ticket costs, it is approximately $9000 USD per horse. 

The horses from Argentina have finally been released from quarantine and are now at home at the farm #polo #poloponies @pampanortepolo

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Goodbye to Nutria

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Goodbye to Nutria

Last night we said goodbye to one of our beloved polo ponies, Nutria.

She had a long career as a polo pony and won a numerous Best Playing Pony awards before becoming a school horse at the Toronto Polo School. In her role as a school horse, she taught countless beginners to play polo and was a favorite of many.

Nutria was in her twenties and passed away peacefully in her stall last night from old age. She will be missed around the farm and by all the players she took care of. 

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Outdoor Arena Polo Season Kicks off at Bancroft Farm

Outdoor Arena Polo Season Kicks off at Bancroft Farm

This past week marked the start of the outdoor arena polo season at Bancroft Farm with games occurring on Tuesday evening and Sunday afternoon.

The outdoor arena has been open for use and playable since mid-April but last week was our first opportunity to get a group together and organize games. 

We had a great turn out for both games; on Tuesday evening we played four chukkers and on Sunday we played six chukkers. Temperatures were in the mid to high teens and the competition was great both days. Everyone and their ponies were happy to finally be outside again enjoying the beautiful spring weather. 

Weather permitting, games will be organized on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends. Tuesday and Thursday Games starting at 5:00 pm and weekend games at 1:00 pm.  

See you at the farm soon!

On top of game during horse play

On top of game during horse play

After many years of faking it, I can now finally wear a Polo shirt without feeling dishonest.

Yes, despite having to sign a waiver warning about injury, dismemberment and the possibility of death, I braved the potential consequences Thursday and gave polo a try.