I don’t have words
|February 22, 2022||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
I feel like I’ve lived a year in the last week.
There were a lot of firsts.
Friday was my first polo game. It was also my first time playing on grass.
Arena and grass are the same and different. Longer checkers (the “periods” of a polo game), more players on the field and the flow of the play is different. Less turning, more straight runs, no rebounds of the ball off the wall. The ball doesn’t hide in divets in the arena footing and the ball on grass is a hard small thing instead of a miniature soccer ball.
Bonnie set up my rental horses and they gave me exactly what I needed. Older steady honest horses that I could say “GO!!!!” and they took care of getting me to the ball and the rest was up to me.
My reaction time was slow so I was always trying to catch up. I almost was never with my man, even though I could usually see where I needed to me. I touched the ball a couple of times but flubbed every shot. I stayed on, I ran fast, I wasn’t scared, I didn’t cause any accidents.
I tried to remember all the best advice I was given over the last couple of months. I stabilized my seat with my knees instead of my calves, I pushed my hand forward, I tried to stay with a man (hahahahaha), and I tried to have fun.
I did have fun.
A game is four chukkers of 7 1/2 minutes, with about 2 minutes to gallop off the field, jump on your next horse, and return to the field ready to play. Thirty minutes of game time, with about ten minutes of galloping about throwing yourself on and off horses.
In forty minutes I felt like I had ridden about 50 miles.
I know, because I’ve ridden 50 miles before. Multiple times.
My last chukker was on a horse that was barely 14 hands. I barely made it on. You know what a rider at the end of a 100 miler looks like trying to mount their 16.2 hand horse for the last loop around camp? Yeah, that pretty much nails it. (the mounting block was in use!).
I’ve been taking lessons, drilling, and scrimmaging since mid-October. That’s four months. I don’t have words for any of it. I don’t have words for how the hell I survived that game on Friday, my goals and hopes for polo, what I’m doing next, or how I’m going to do it.
More consequentially for the blog, I don’t really know how to write about polo yet. How to make you guys feel the same things I’m feeling, how to bring you with me to the field. Or, if that’s not the right way to write about polo, figure out what the connection is between you, me, and the sport and write about that.
Polo is completely different from endurance. In a game there is no other room in my brain to think of anything else other than the horse, ball, and field for the entirety of the game. The “live in the moment” necessity of a polo game is also why I think I’m having a hard time figuring out how to write about polo.
Endurance – far too much time to craft the story. I’ll write whole paragraphs in my head, maybe even taking the time to dictate a note to my phone. I think about the timing of the story, what word perfectly describes the monotony and boredom that is briefly punctuated by the sheer “rightness” of traveling down the trail doing a simple thing.
Polo – ride too fast. maybe hit the ball. Have no time to think of anything except “g*ddamm*t” a few time. Collapse in chair afterwards sweat soaked in effort and adrenaline with impressions of thoughts instead of actual thoughts.
I’m going to do my best to write what’s rattling around in my head about polo, horses, and riding and I’m sure eventually we will figure it out.
P.S. there’s a ton of pictures on instagram (@drmelnewton) from the weekend if you want to check them out. I’ll be sprinkling them in the posts eventually.
Maybe start by writing about the horses. How both seasoned endurance horses and seasoned polo ponies know their job. About how they know what you need to do before you know it yourself. What’s the look in their eye? How are horses selected for novices? What about an expert’s horse is different? I’m always fascinated about the differences between disciplines.
I don’t know yet…except that the horses I like right now as a novice are the ones that will run in a straight line and don’t throw nasty bucks ?. I think I’ll be talking about the horses a lot just because it’s SO different from endurance. How the horses are used and viewed, and how to succeed in polo you almost have to forget about the horse underneath of you and just ask and do because if you are trying to think about their welfare or their legs, you aren’t in the play any more. Like endurance the horse is central. Unlike endurance, the sport is not all about the horses even though they are incredibly exquisite. Oh yes, I think I’ll have a lot to say about the ponies.