Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Saturday 5th March 2011

Our return to Buenos Aires might only have been distinguished by more steak, shopping, a severe stomach bug for George and severer haircut for me, had it not been for George's insistence that we do something Polo related, whether that be watching or playing it. Apparently the gauchos all took to the sport with enthusiasm when it was introduced by British settlers in the 19th Century. I hadn't really appreciated the game´s popularity in Argentina before. Possibly that's because my connection with Polo is limited to ill-advised use of a Ralph Lauren aftershave aged 17.

There were no matches to watch that weekend, so we ended up traveling to a peaceful estancia outside the city for a lesson. We were in the company of two middle-aged American ladies and a couple of young London City lawyers. Apart from George, none of us had really ridden a horse at all. Naturally, this meant she was in her element.

Our teacher was Fernando, a slightly peculiar Argentinian, who insisted on warming up his horse before starting the lesson. This consisted of us having to watch him gallop back and forth up the Polo pitch, wresting the horse this way and that, before heading back towards us at full pelt and making the horse jump to a stop. I note that none of our horses required warming up.

George took to the game immediately, and was soon cantering up and down the pitch, knocking forward the ball with confidence. The rest of us found it rather less easy to master, our horses wandering around in disarray, mallets swinging chaotically. For me, the difficulty may have been caused by Fernando´s insistence that Polo can not be played left-handed. This put me at a bit of a disadvantage, something that Fernando failed to appreciate, telling me not to "invent things" when I complained to him that I was finding the mallet grip unusual.

However, I think my main problem was the bloody horse I was sat on. The trouble started when I tried to turn him in a particular direction. He simply refused - if I wanted to go right, I would shift my weight to the right, while kicking him with my left leg. In contemptuous response, he would head left. I would stubbornly persist with my "right command" pulling madly at the rein, with no consequence whatsoever. This was nothing however with the trick he decided to start pulling later in the day: stopping dead and refusing to move. I think I could have got into the Polo thing, had I not been sat on a stationary horse, a couple of metres away from the action, frantically and vainly hammering my legs up and down like an angry girl from a Thelwell cartoon.

141 - posted at 22:09:20

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