Young Ladies About Town

The girls living and laughing their way around London, meeting lots of fascinating folk along the way...

A polo lesson for the riding novice

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
Fiona Hicks has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 26 June 2012
The only knowledge of polo I have is from that scene in Pretty Woman where the spectators take part in stomping the Divots (stomping down the torn up turf) and everyone looks incredibly smart whilst sipping champagne. So in my eyes an invitation from luxury watch-makers Jaeger-LeCoultre to a day of polo would entail lots of champagne, well dressed ladies and gentlemen, and some rather dashing men on horseback...YAY!

Despite the fact the last time I had actually sat on a horse was as a child on a Blackpool beach family holiday, I discovered I wouldn't just be watching polo - I would be playing too!

polo 5

The ground I visited was owned by Claire Milford Haven, herself a Jaeger-LeCoultre ambassador, and it was there that my adventure began...

polo 6

I arrived at the polo ground bright and early and was greeted with a large mug of tea which was much appreciated on the rather grey, damp morning. Sat on a large comfy sofa, Julian Hipwood, who was captain of the English National team that won the Coronation Cup six times (and is considered as one of the best polo players to date) talked me through the rules of polo.

After a whistle stop lesson we went on a tour of the stables (where I stopped to stroke every horse). Having met the grooms and learnt about different foods and bedding for polo ponies we headed down to the polo ground for a practice with the hand mallets before we would be climbing on a horse. If my practice shots were anything to go by, hopefully I would fair just as well whilst sitting on a horse!

polo 1

Walking down to the polo arena I could see the horses saddled up. And I won't lie when I say that it was then that nerves hit me. I had never ridden a horse before, and yet in mere minutes I would be sitting on one, polo mallet in hand. Luckily, the bit I was most worried about - the actual getting on the horse -  was no problem. I had had visions of some poor chap having to help heave me onto it!

As a novice to riding and polo the first lesson of the day was polo itself. Holding the reins in my left hand (the polo mallet is held in the right) Julian took me around the arena so I could get used to the movement of the horse. First we went at a walking pace, then a trot (slight bumpy, my poor bottom!) and then a canter. I surprised myself, let alone everyone else, that I was cantering having never ridden before!

polo 2

Now full of confidence, I was handed a polo mallet and was ready to show everyone that this young lady about town was going to be the next big thing.

Hitting the ball whilst riding is not as easy as it looks. I may not be a polo star in the making, but I did manage to hit the ball (after a fair few attempts), canter and most importantly, I didn't fall off!

polo 3

The day ended with a high goal game of polo at Cowdray Park which was thrilling! When one of the players was injured I was ready to jump on a horse and take his place if worst came to the worst. But luckily for the team, he made a full recovery.

After a day of playing and watching polo I can assure you that real polo is hard sweaty work and competitors must have to train incredibly hard to be the best. And that's why it is refreshing that Jaeger-LeCoultre sponsor the sport and not the pomp and Pommery. And despite the fact it wasn't a champagne filled day (I did actually get to stomp the divots) I still had the most amazing time.

polo 4

I may be sitting here at my desk now with a slightly bruised bottom but it doesn't matter. I can safely say Jaeger-LeCoultre have ignited a passion for polo which I didn't know I had! I think this could be the start of an exciting new hobby...

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