Without a doubt, polo is an addictive sport. And it’s been said that “once you’re in polo, it’s impossible to be out of polo…there are only two chances, either you die or you go bankrupt, but there’s no way you can be out of polo once you are inside, it’s like a virus.” It’s a bit of a dark statement but it’s not far from the truth. Polo is a lot more than a game…and for the right person it can become an addiction in the best sense of the word. After all, you could be involved in a lot worse things.
Polo has a way of sneaking up on new players. No one expects it to be quite as easy to learn or something that can be learned in the first place. So people intentionally come into the sport with low expectations. They tell themselves things like ‘I won’t even be able to hit the ball’ to ‘I’m not a Prince so I just won’t fit in with the crowd of players’. But the truth is, polo isn’t really like the stereotypes people make up for it, sure, Princes play the sport but regular people do too. And when people realize just how easy it is to take lessons, and how not impossible it is to hit the ball…well they find themselves sliding down the slippery slope of a polo addiction because the synergistic combination of horses, adrenaline, teamwork, competition and other factors makes it hard to stop once you’ve started.
So to all those new players out there, we’ve all been where you are. We’ve all rationalized our addiction the same way and to make you feel less alone we at the Toronto Polo School have documented the process so you know what to expect as you slide down that slippery slope of getting hooked on polo.
Stage 1: The ‘I just want to try it’ stage
So you’ve seen it played live, or on TV, or maybe you just had an urge to be different, to do something different. Whatever your reasoning you’ve found yourself signed up for a private lesson or one of our one-day learn to play clinics and you’re telling yourself you only want to try it. You don’t anticipate it becoming a big thing in your life but simply a way to pass a Saturday outside in the fresh air with friends. Besides…you probably won’t even be able to hit the ball so no danger of it being a long term thing.
Stage 2: The ‘Asking for a Friend’ stage
So you’ve tried it. You’ve done the one-day clinic; you cantered a polo pony, you hit the ball, you played a slow scrimmage. You go back to work on Monday and you find yourself thinking about ‘polo, polo, polo’. So you give us a call at the Toronto Polo School and you decide to just ask the question; how does one really learn to play polo…hypothetically that is? You just want to know, to have the information…it’s not like you’re really going to learn to play.
Stage 3: The ‘Just One Lesson’ stage
You couldn’t shake it, time passed and you were still thinking about that first time you hit the ball and swung a mallet. The wall of denial begins to come down, brick by brick, you take us up on our private lessons or eight-week polo school because you could be involved in a lot worse things…and this counts as social time and fitness time…doesn’t it?
Stage 4: The ‘Season is Short’ stage
Now that you’ve taken more lessons, you can feel polo beginning to grab a hold on your life. But you maintain that this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence in your life. Your life was fine as it was…and so was your bank account. So you tell yourself that you’ll just play for the summer, the Toronto summer season is short anyways…there…you’ve given yourself a finite amount of time to enjoy your new pastime. That is until you find out that polo is played all year in Toronto, the venue simply switches from grassy fields to arenas and snowy fields but the rush stays the same…
Stage 5: The ‘I’ll just play once a week’ stage
With the summer season firmly passed and with it your deadline for when you were going to stop playing and the polo addiction showing no sign of slowing down you re-evaluate your plan and tell yourself that you won’t stop playing…you’ll just cut it back to once a week. Just enough to keep your skills sharp but not enough to break the bank or your body.
Stage 6: The ‘I'll just buy some cheap equipment’ stage
You start to play proper instructional matches or for those true protégés maybe you’re playing proper field matches and you decide that you really do need some of the required equipment. You compromise and tell yourself that you just buy an inexpensive polo helmet (something to protect your head and help you look the part on the field), some inexpensive knee guards, boots and gloves etc. And we can’t forget a mallet…you decide to buy at least one, because you’re not like all those pros who break their way through their piles of mallets each summer…you don’t play hard enough or nearly as much as they do…
Stage 7: The ‘I just need one horse’ stage
You’ve come to the conclusion that maybe buying a horse might not be the worst idea in the world. You’d be able to play as much as you wanted (within reason) for the same flat fee per month. And you have always wanted to own a horse…it’s just the most economical way to play polo or so they say…all the players are doing it. So you find the perfect first horse and you pat yourself on the back for your good decision making.
Stage 8: ‘Just ONE more polo pony’ stage
Polo ponies are like kernels of popcorn…impossible to have just one. And even though you told yourself that you, personally, just needed one horse it became clear pretty quickly that the minimum required was two and wouldn’t you like to have a pair of polo ponies not just one? Back to the polo ponies for sale listing you go to search out your second horse…
Stage 9: Acceptance
Time goes by and you’ve got yourself set up quite nicely with some gear, a mallet, a small string of ponies and a handicap. There’s no denying it now, you’re hooked on polo and it’d be pretty hard to imagine your life (and your social circle) without polo. No sense in denying it anymore. You’re a proud polo addict and that’s ok…or so you tell yourself as you search the classifieds for polo pony prospects for sale (after all a spare pony would be nice)
There you have it. The rationalizing that goes on inside a new polo player’s mind as they fall head over heels for polo.
If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably sitting there telling yourself that you’re different. You haven’t felt any of this. You really are just a casual player. And maybe you are, if you managed not to get hooked on polo…well good on you. But the rest of us are sunk and that’s totally okay because we’re sunk together.
Want to give it a try yourself? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on 'learn to play' clinics and lessons.