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The Nine Stages of Getting Hooked on Polo

The Nine Stages of Getting Hooked on Polo

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…

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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…

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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 info@polomanagement.com for information on 'learn to play' clinics and lessons. 

The Top Ten Best Polo YouTube Videos

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The Top Ten Best Polo YouTube Videos

Polo isn't the world's most popular sport. It's not always (or ever) broadcast on TV unless you live in Argentina but there is one place that polo can be found anywhere and anytime. YouTube. YouTube is a nearly never ending source of match edits, interviews, instructional videos, and match live streams. It's also a way for players, new and experienced, to get a feel for the quite literal world of opportunities that exist out there for polo players and fanatics. So sit back, relax and enjoy watching this list of our favorite polo YouTube videos. 

1.  From highlight reels to full matches and live streams of matches from across the United States there's always polo happening on the USPA Polo Network YouTube Channel. 

Watch USPA Polo Live

2. Believe me when I say, once you watch this video playing polo in Argentina will jump to the top of your bucket list. 

Celebrating tradition, sport, family and craftsmanship, Polo in Argentina showcases the very best of the sport at the renowned Triple Crown Final in Palermo.

3. If you've ever heard whispers of polo pony cloning and wanted to learn more this video is your chance. An English subtitled video with all the information you've ever wanted about the pro-cloning side of the debate. 

English Subtitled* The Worlds greatest polo player, Adolfo Cambiaso, and his dream coming true. Five of his best horses have been cloned multiple times. Cloning is used much like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemenation (AI) to produce genetic improvement programs for equine and bovine worldwide. Crestview Genetics - Perpetuating the Finest.

4. The teaser trailer for a tv series coming out soon that follows the global high goal polo circuit. Beautifully shot and artistically edited this video will make you glad to be a part of this crazy entertaining sport. 

5. A USPA Polo Network shot film that shows exactly what it's like to ride a polo pony flat out. 

6. The Rules of Polo can be complicated and the rule books can be even more complicated. This YouTube channel provides an alternative to learning polo right from the comfort of your couch. Of course, it's no substitute for the real thing, but for those days when you just can't get out to the barn it's a great way to keep up with your learning. 

Learn Polo with lessons in the field Presentation of the POLO IN video series With real examples to understand how to play polo. 25 videos that explain everything you need to know to place you on the polo field, understand and play polo. See important details to improve your polo.

7. For all the ladies out there, here's a unique insight into the world of ladies polo from Apes Hill Polo Club in Barbados. 

8. Polo is played all over the world (see above videos) and in all different conditions. And this short film profiles the event and players that participate in the annual Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz. 

Xaver Walser, the Swiss-South African filmmaker, dedicated his most recent short movie to snow polo. SECOND TO NONE is a fascinating "behind the scenes" portrait featuring gripping scenes and stirring commentaries from professionals at the Snow Polo World Cup St. Moritz 2015. The film has been published worldwide on 24 February 2015.

9. Ever wondered what's faster, a polo player or an F1 driver? Here's the answer to your question. A real comparison of horsepower. 

10. Produced for Audi Argentina, a title sponsor of La Dolfina Polo Team's 2011 Argentine Open, this match edit shows all the great polo action from the first of the triple crown tournaments, the Hurlingham Open, in 2011. 

Have any other polo favorites from YouTube? Comment the links below and we'll be sure to check them out!

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Your Guide to the Real Athletes on the Polo Field; Polo Ponies

Your Guide to the Real Athletes on the Polo Field; Polo Ponies

Ask any polo player how important their ponies are to them and they’ll tell you they account for roughly 80% of their ability to play polo.  

But how much do you really know about these mysterious creatures called ‘polo ponies’? Luckily, we’ve got all those burning questions covered in our handy dandy guide to polo ponies; the real athletes on the field.

What are they?

It’s one of the most common questions we get when people develop an interest in polo. What kind of horses are polo ponies?

Polo ponies are not a specific breed of horse and they don’t all come from one blood line. Though today most polo ponies today are at least part thoroughbred thanks to the thoroughbred's speed, stamina and build. 

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But there is nothing saying that a polo pony has to be a certain breed. Instead, they must meet certain requirements of both a physical and mental nature. Mentally, they must have a combination of intelligence and a love for the game also known as what players call a ‘mind for the game’. It’s very difficult to make a pony want to play polo, they have to have the mind capable of following everything that is happening out there on the field. Physically, they must have speed and endurance along with strong legs capable of carrying riders at full speed, stopping and turning on a dime. There’s also a certain amount of ‘heart’ required for a polo pony. Players want their ponies to be brave, to attack and take them into a play, but remain obedient and willing to their player’s instructions. That perfect polo pony with the right combination of mind and heart can sometimes be a once in a lifetime find unless of course, you’re a proponent of polo pony cloning (a story for another time).

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Ponies of all heights and breeds may be played in the game. Only horses that have vices (fears, handicaps etc.) that may potentially be dangerous to other players or ponies are banned from playing.

Are they really ponies?

You’re probably wondering why they’re called ponies if there are no height or breed restrictions in the polo rulebook?

It all goes back to the days when the preferred mount for players was the Manipuri Pony which stood just 13.2 hands off the ground. In those days, the smaller the pony the better. But as the sport was adopted by the West and became more and more popular height restrictions on the ponies were raised and eventually abandoned in 1919. While they’re not actual ponies today, they still tend to remain on the shorter side of the spectrum. Most polo ponies today sit somewhere between 14 and 16 hands. And it is often said that the perfect pony rides like an 18 hand pony but plays like a 14 hand pony, with the hypothetical 18 hands giving the player an advantage in defense and the 14 hands giving the player the handling and maneuverablity that is so necessary on the polo field.

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Where do they come from?

Polo ponies can come from a range of places. A large proportion of polo ponies today come from Argentina where there are huge breeding and training operations tailored specifically to polo. These operations are often the source of high goal ponies and have even recently ventured into genetically cloning star ponies so players can have multiple ponies of the same genes. Players often travel down to Argentina to look, try and purchase polo ponies who are then flown back to the player’s home country (see article No Small Feat). Polo ponies that originate from Argentina are often considered to be some of the world’s best thanks to the quality of stock and training down there. These horses are often thoroughbreds crossed with an Argentine working horse breed called a criollo, these ponies are often known just as Argentines.

But Argentina is not the only place ponies come from. Another popular avenue for polo ponies is from the race track. Ex-racehorses often have the speed and agility that is required for polo and if you can find one with the right conformation for polo it’s a good option. These off-track thoroughbreds are often trained to become polo ponies as a second career.

Other polo ponies are simply horses players have found and decided they liked the look of for polo. These can be quarter horses, thoroughbred crosses, and any other breed under the sun so long as they have the heart, mind and build for polo.

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Training Ponies

Training horses to play polo can be a long and unpredictable road. It can be filled with setbacks and time off for the horse to adjust and let what they’ve learned sink in or while they regress into their stupider days.

Horses start by being schooled and taught the movements required in polo; quick acceleration, stopping on a dime, and rollbacks. Then they are desensitized to the mallet and hours are spent ‘stick and balling’ with them so that they can get used to a rider swinging a mallet on their back sometimes taking other horses with them on the field. When the player believes the horse is comfortable enough they will begin to play the horse in slow chukkers, letting it get the hang of what it feels like to play an actual game.

Depending on the horse, their mind and where they came from it can take anywhere from a matter of months to a matter of years.

Matching Players and Ponies

Any player you meet will have their own preference when it comes to polo ponies. Some players like larger horses, maybe because of their own size or the security afforded to them by a larger pony; others like smaller ponies that handle like an agile sports car. While there may be a dictionary definition for the ‘perfect polo pony’ it is a fluid definition when it comes to matching ponies with riders.

For starters there are two types of horses; push horses and pull horses. Push horses are horses that have to be pushed into going fast, they have lazy tendencies and are perfect for the novice or nervous player. Pull horses are horses that need no encouragement to run and take their player into a play but they may need a little extra encouragement to stop. These are often for the more advanced horse(wo)man. But even novices sometimes like pull horses and pros like push horses, nothing is black and white when it comes to matching players and ponies.

Then there is the age old question of geldings vs. mares. Many polo ponies are mares, and many people prefer mares for the heart they have when they take to the field. It is often said, that a mare can be ‘asked’ to do something. A gelding must be told. Geldings can take longer to train and can sometimes be a little stupid but can also make excellent polo ponies for the right person.

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All of the variables can combine into a range of personalities (and yes polo ponies absolutely have personalities) that must be matched with their player in order to create a perfect team and is often the reason that players learning to play are given the opportunity to try a variety of different horses so that they can learn what they like when it comes time to lease or buy.

Riding style is also a factor in matching ponies and players. Certain players have long strong legs and as such control the horse a lot with their legs. Others are a little more handsy and rely on the reins more making horses with sensitive mouths a bad choice for these players. Some players push horses harder than others while even other players will pick their style of horse for the position they play most often on the field.

Above all, a player must be comfortable on their ponies; because they are their teammate more than anyone else out there. And the connection between player and pony must be so instinctual that they can communicate without really communicating, they must be able to read each other's minds.

It has long been said that ‘a good player on a bad horse isn’t such a good player. And a bad player with a good horse can be a very good player.’ In polo, it’s all about the horses and it’s a large part of the reason why players enjoy the sport so much.

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Love horses? Want to try something totally unique involving horses? Want to do things you never thought you’d do on a horse? Try Polo! We offer clinics and lessons, sign up today.  

Looking to purchase a polo pony? Check out our horses for sale page for up to date listings on horses we’ve got for sale.

 

The Unspoken Rules of Polo (aka Polo Etiquette)

The Unspoken Rules of Polo (aka Polo Etiquette)

 

Polo is a sport with many names, one of which being the ‘Game of Kings’ and the name isn’t for nothing. Polo really is a very gentlemanly sport with the rules being created to protect human and horse competitors alike and a whole etiquette system to boot existing around the sport and its players. We’ve got all your queries about the etiquette of polo covered so that next time you hit the field, especially for those beginner players hitting the field for the first time, you know what to do and how to act.

 

1. Tardiness

Like any team sport, polo is dependent on coordinating a variety of factors into a perfect storm scenario; from the weather to eight (or more) busy people’s schedules, to sixteen or more horses and their grooms it’s a constant challenge to organize a polo match. That said, do your best not to show up late or unprepared. If the other players can do their part to coordinate their busy schedules in order to arrive on time, organize their horses for the match and arrive prepared you can too.

 

2. The Pre-Game Handshake

The first thing any polo player does when they take to the field before a match starts is ride up to the other players, on their team and on the opposing team, and shake hands or introduce themselves etc. As a team sport, polo is a social sport, and even the most intense tournament at its core is about having some fun with fellow players. So take the moment to relax, introduce yourself, and familiarize yourself with the other players because it will go a long way with your teammates and your opposition if they know your name on the field. Not to mention, polo is a sport heavily based on networking, teams are formed for each specific tournament so if another player likes what they see and wants you to play together in the next tournament them knowing your name goes a long way towards getting that chance to play together again.

 

3. Fouls

Ideally, every player aims not to foul on the field. However, even the best players foul sometimes. When it happens other players may be seen throwing their mallets up in the air and yelling 'foul' to the umpire or anyone paying attention. When it happens just admit your mistake, apologize to your team and file that mistake away in your memory bank as something not to do next time. It’s as simple as that.

 

4. Switching Ponies in between Chukkers

In between each chukker, players must head for the sidelines or back to their trailers to switch their ponies for the following chukker. It’s considered good manners to only take as long as absolutely necessary in between chukkers, other players don’t enjoy being held up while you take your sweet time trading ponies.

 

5. No Heckling

It's all for fun and games and a little teasing in a practice game is one thing but out right heckling and yelling from the sidelines or from your pony aren't really considered polite behaviour on the polo field, after all we are civilized ladies and gentlemen and the sport really is about getting out there, having some fun and maybe winning a nice trophy when it's all said and done. 

 

6. The Post-Game Handshake

Polo is a game of many handshakes. And in addition to the pre-game handshake it’s customary to shake hands with the other players, teammates, and opposition, once again after the game finishes. Players usually also thank each other and congratulate them on a game well played. You probably shouldn’t leave the field without participating in this little ritual or the others might think you didn’t enjoy playing with them or simply think you're just not a very polite person. Save your reputation and shake hands. 

 

7. Grooms

They work tirelessly to ensure that your horses are in tip top shape to take to the field when you do and look good while they’re out there. So throw them a quick thank you after the game for all they do to keep your horses happy, fit and healthy.

 

8. Divot Stomping

After the game, when the ponies have been put away, the players have cooled down and let the adrenaline die down from an exciting match it’s customary for all the players to head out onto the field and ‘stomp the divots’ or clean up the field. It goes a long way towards ingratiating yourself with the field owner, who likely works tirelessly on keeping the field in playable condition and considers the field their pride and joy, if you make an effort towards repairing some of the damage you may have made.

 

9. Post Game Socializing

Like we mentioned above, polo is a social sport and any player would agree that taking the time to socialize with other players off the field is nearly as important as playing the game. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances, like scheduling conflicts and match delays. But generally, players plan to linger for at least fifteen minutes after the game finishes to debrief and converse with their fellow players. If you’re lucky some matches will include asados (Argentine barbecues) or refreshments after the game, even more incentive to stick around the field after the game to debrief and catch up with what’s happening in your teammates lives off the field.

 

10.  Beer

While it’s not always the case and there are many exceptions to the rule. At Polo Management Services/Toronto Polo School, when a player makes an unplanned dismount during the game aka takes a tumble we are owed a case of beer or something equivalent. It’s our way of providing a little motivation for you not to take a tumble, you are welcome. 

 

So there you have it, your guide to the unspoken rules of polo. You can thank us next time you attempt to navigate the tricky waters of polo match etiquette and know exactly what to do. 

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. 

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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