I just got home from this week’s polo lesson. It wasn’t great. As one of my fellow players said, “You have your good days and your bad days”. Well for me, today was definitely a bad day.
If you’re just joining me, feel free to click here to jump back to Learning To Play Polo: Part 1, where it all began!
What went wrong
First, let’s get something straight, I’m not a complainer. But after talking to my fellow players, I feel like there’s value in sharing my bad experiences as much as the good. Afterall, when you encounter a similar situation, I hope you realise, as I did, that you need to toughen the hell up and stop complaining.
So here’s how it went down…
- I was rushed
- I was hungry
- I was still thinking about work
- I had to deal with a ton of traffic to get to the field
- I was riding a horse I hadn’t ridden before
- My jeans had just been washed and they were sliding all over the saddle
- The horse was green and moved left everytime a mallet came swinging near its head
There’s your context, now for the outcome:
While I didn’t get thrown, I almost did… three times. Bottomline, the horse and I weren’t in sync from the get go. And while I would like to blame the horse, I know where the issue really is: it’s my riding.
What went right
Let’s talk about what went right during this week’s training: my hitting, my half seat, and I feel like I’m learning.
Getting in the half seat
While I didn’t feel great in the saddle, I did feel that my half seat has improved dramatically. I am now able to get up in the saddle and feel like I have the strength, the grip, and the control, to maintain the position as I swing down at the ball.
Taking a full swing
I also felt that my swing is starting to take shape. This is after 12 lessons and a grand total of eight hours. I have confidently moved on from the pendulum swing that I was taught to start with and I am now taking a full swing, starting up and behind the body, and coming down on the ball as I come into it with the horse. There’s still a long way to go but I am making great contact and feeling like hitting the ball is going to be my area of strength on the field. Watch out 4 position, here I come!
Understanding the rules
While I’m not actually playing in competitive chukkers yet, I have spent time watching instructional videos and educating myself on the basic rules. And while I have been watching polo matches in person and recounting to myself when I think there’s a foul or when the line of the ball has been broken, I hadn’t yet been put to the test personally… until today, that is!
After today’s training, I sat down with a group of seasoned players and we were discussing a number factors of the match that was on earlier. We discussed a number of calls, some good, some bad, and at the end of the recap, I discovered that I had a very good understanding (at least for my limited experience) of the rules of the game.
Today was another example of ‘5 steps forward 2 steps back’. And I’m okay with that. I feel like I’m making progress and so long as I stick to it, I’m going to be doing great in no time. I will be putting more time into my riding and hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be feeling more confident in my skills on the horse, which will help me develop even better skills playing the game.
Until next time!
To read Part 5 in the Learning to Play series from Michael click here.