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The Top Ten Reactions and Questions you get when you tell people you Play Polo

The Top Ten Reactions and Questions you get when you tell people you Play Polo

They may call it ‘hockey on horseback’ in some circles, but there’s one thing for sure that differentiates polo from hockey and that’s it’s popularity or lack thereof. Polo is rare, polo players are even rarer and the matches? Well, they usually happen somewhere off the radar of the vast majority of the population.

And its rarity isn’t a bad thing. It means you, as a polo player, get to be unique. You are part of an elite club, a club so elite and so secret most people don’t even know it exists! That said, when you tell people that you play polo or that you can’t make that dinner because you’re playing polo, well you may get some weird, funny, and downright confused looks and remarks.

We’ve compiled a list of the best, most stereotypical responses from people that players could get when they say they play polo and we’ve even provided a list of possible responses, to help you explain your penchant for ‘hockey on horseback’.

 

1.     “Like on horses?”

Probably one of the most common responses people will have when you say you’re a polo player. For some reason when you say ‘polo’ most people are trying to reconcile you with their stereotypical ‘Pretty Woman’ Royal Family polo player image and the two aren’t connecting…so the next logical explanation just HAS to be water polo…we don’t understand it either.  

Possible Responses: ‘yes’ (simple but effective) OR ‘of course, what other kind of polo is there?’ (feign ignorance towards water polo).

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2.     “Do you know Prince William and Prince Harry?”

There might be a theme developing. Polo’s reputation as the ‘Game of King’s’ often has people thinking literally, and for some reason, they seem to think the polo world is so small that you just must have taken to the field with the only polo players most people know of.

Possible Responses: ‘the polo world is small but not THAT small’ (the truth) OR ‘of course, Will and Harry and I play together ALL the time’ (sarcasm).

 

3.     “They play polo here?”

Most people think polo is a sport played by the English Aristocracy in the English countryside and not much else. They’re not aware of it’s global network and its popularity among South Americans and the rest of the world. Think back to before you learned to play polo, did you know Argentine’s dominated the sport and that it was played in over 50 countries worldwide? If you did, then bravo you!

Possible Responses: ‘yes’ (simple) OR ‘yes, we have a polo club located North of the City’ (leave it at that, if they didn’t know there was polo here they certainly won’t understand polo club logistics), OR ‘it’s a well kept secret’ (leave them hanging at that, then they’ll absolutely need to know more)

 

4.     “I’m wearing a polo shirt!

In everyday life, the only time the word ‘polo’ comes up is in conjunction with the brand ‘Polo Ralph Lauren’ or shirts of the polo variety. Some people may be so stunned and lacking a response when you say that you’re a polo player that the first thing that pops into their head is the popular connotation of polo and fashion.

Possible Responses: ‘that you are’ (there really isn’t anything else to be said here)

 

5.     “Are matches really like that scene in Pretty Woman?”

Another popular connotation of polo is the popular movie Pretty Woman. You’ll sometimes hear people refer to their ‘Pretty Woman’ polo moment. For most people this and other Hollywood depictions are the only instances that they’ve seen a polo match, so naturally they want to know if the silver screen versions match up with the real thing.

Possible Responses: ‘yeah, sort of (insert detail about the differences here)’ OR ‘why don’t you find out for yourself I’m playing [insert date and location]’

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6.     “How exactly does that work?

These are the people that are genuinely curious (future polo players?!). They want to try to understand the what, how, why, and who of polo in Toronto. So take your time to explain things as best as you can, you never know where the next polo addict or fan will come from!

Possible Responses: ‘I play Tuesdays and Thursdays north of the city; I lease horses etc.’ (fill in appropriate details)

 

7.     “So are you on a team? Do they even have teams in Polo?”

 Like most sports, people associate them with teams. And so people will automatically jump to wanting to know what team you play for as a way to assess how good you might be. Handle this however you’d like, the politics and complexities of polo teams never make for a straight cut explanation.

Possible Responses: ‘I’m a club member and teams are randomly formed depending on the match and tournament’ OR ‘We have teams but they change all the time due to personal and tournament handicaps,’ (be prepared for questions about handicaps if you go with this answer)

 

8.     “Where do you even learn to play polo?”

These are the people that likely thought you had to either be Royal or born into polo in order to be a player, they’d never even thought it was something that could be learned. Like reaction #6 these people are genuinely curious and might just be potential polo players so take your time with this. Remember to give us, the Toronto Polo School, a shout out in your answer! (kidding…but not really)

Possible Responses: tell them your own polo origin story OR ‘I took lessons or a clinic at the Toronto Polo School’ etc.

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9.     “How did you get into THAT?”

A similar reaction to the one above. These people are the people who never thought they’d be standing face to face with a real live polo player. They’ve run through all the above responses and settled on the overarching ‘how’.

Possible Responses: tell them how and why you started to play polo (simple, truthful, effective)

 

10.  “Wow!” or other monosyllabic expressions of surprise and speechlessness

These are the people that thought polo and polo players only actually exist in movies, on the pages of Hello Magazine and in the glossy ads for Ralph Lauren and US Polo Association clothes. Let’s just say you’ve thrown them a curve ball with your penchant for polo, and they’re currently searching their minds for everything they know about polo to come up with the right question to ask next, their first response was just a way to buy time.

Possible Responses: ‘yep’ (acknowledge them and wait for the follow-up question)

 

Whatever the reaction you get when you tell people you play polo, own your response and your uniqueness as a polo player because let’s be honest it and you are pretty cool. 

Destination Polo: Argentina

Destination Polo: Argentina

Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the mid point in the summer, even though it feels like it just started because the good weather took so long to arrive. It’s at this point in the summer that people look towards the fall and start making plans for those cool Toronto fall days.

If you’re a polo player, the fall also means the end of field polo season and the beginning of the arena or snow polo season in Toronto. A sad time of year indeed. But there’s one thing that saves us all for our winter away from the fields and that’s Argentina.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again. Argentina and its people are hugely influential when it comes to the ‘polo culture’ and ‘polo lifestyle’. From the go to catering choice of Argentinian Barbecue (aka Asado) to the presence of Spanish and Spanish speakers around every polo field, you can’t really escape Argentina when you’re a polo player.

And with good reason. Argentina is home to some of the best polo players, matches, fields, and horses in the world. You won’t see better polo than you’ll see on field number one at Palermo, especially if you happen to get tickets to see the final of the ‘Open’.

It’s because of the importance of Argentina within the polo world and the high caliber of polo that can be watched and played during their peak season each November that players from all over the world hop the next flight down to the mecca of polo for a few weeks of red wine, red meat, and polo. Let’s just say it’s our way of stocking up and overdosing on polo before we all return home to our indoor arenas.

Photo by Alejandra de Miguel

Photo by Alejandra de Miguel

Where you may limit yourself to playing every other day or as little as once or twice a week in the summer season in Toronto (you have to pace yourself somehow, right?), in Argentina you play every single day (as long as your body can handle it and the weather holds out). You ride through those sore muscles and continually remind yourself that there’s no more polo like this once you hop that plane back home, so a little pain now will be worth it in the long run.

Because everyone who is anyone makes the trip down at the same time of year, it’s also a social opportunity. You never know who you may find yourself taking the field with or standing beside in the bar at the Campo Argentino de Polo aka Palermo. While it’s a social sport, polo can sometimes feel a little lonely, because people outside polo often don’t realize that it exists or understand it even if they do know that it exists but in Argentina everyone around very much knows it exists, can point you to the closest field and can and will give you their opinions of the players you’re watching, the ponies they played this morning and where they stand on the issues of cloning among others topics. So in a way, it’s kind of refreshing not to have to dumb down or explain the world that you’ve been so swept up by because everyone around you has the addiction as you…an addiction to polo.

It’s also a chance for newer players to get to the root of the Argentine influence of the sport. Once you’ve seen Cambiaso and La Dolfina and Ellerstina and the Pieres’ duke it out on field number one at Palermo well let’s just say that there will be no doubt in your mind why these guys are the best-ranked players in the world. If you weren’t hooked before you certainly will be now.

The food is a whole other reason to make the trip. You’ve likely had the chance to try an Asado at some point in your polo career you’ve probably never had a real authentic Asado. Because while we try to do Asados justice when we do them in Canada they never quite seem to measure up to the Argentine standard, there’s something in the laidback approach to entertaining for an ever changing number of guests with piles of meat slow cooked over an open flame that we Canadians can’t quite get perfect. Not to mention how fast Asados can be thrown together; you can be field side after an evening game in Argentina with no dinner plans only to have everyone band together and divide the work that needs to be done to host an Asado in a matter of minutes. But it’s not ALL about the meat, well not really, Argentina is also home to some of the best Italian food outside of Italy.

Especially coming from Canada where polo equipment is hard to come by and particularly limited in selection going to Argentina is your chance to stock up on all the equipment you may need for the following season. Mallets, helmets, knee pads, boots, whites, polo belts…the list goes on. You may very well need a second suitcase to get the stuff home but its easy to justify an equipment shopping spree down there because you just can’t find the stuff back home.

So aside from it being hugely important as a social opportunity and as a cultural experience, any amount of constant time spent practicing and playing polo will hugely improve your game so while you may be a little worse for wear on your flight back home, your game and your handicap will thank you.

But how does it all work?

Everyone has different requirements for their annual Argentina trip and each individual will want their own balance of playing, watching, eating, shopping and socializing. All different combinations can be arranged. The popularity of polo down there, especially in the peak season, means that there’s an never ending stream of people looking to accommodate players of all levels and interests.

For help in finding the place that will give you’re looking for and be most suitable for your playing level or to sharpen up your game skills with some lessons and matches before you leave contact us at info@polomanagement.com

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. 

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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