Playing the mint with the hole

Posted on December 17, 2011

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If the meaning of serendipity is a ‘pleasant surprise’, I’d have to say, I’ve had a rather serendipitous afternoon. Post booze cruise yesterday, I returned home to find an email from the lovely Adriana at Dubai Polo Academy re a short notice cancellation the following afternoon …  was I free to fill the slot?  Yes. Love to, my reply.

I’ve never tried to play “the sport of Kings” although was an avid horse rider when younger. In fact, my experience of the game only stretches as far as standing on the sidelines at the occasional game, Pimms in hand and straining my eyes to check out the totty on the field. There’s something effortlessly alluring about the game … and the players …

But back to today. This is how it went …

I arrived at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club and was swiftly reminded what a fab club it is.  The atmosphere is so chilled and the grounds expansive.  Adriana is refreshingly friendly and down to earth.  She got me suited and booted … with a hat and chaps … (yikes I thought … I’m way too vain to be looking like this) … and then took me outside to the polo field where I met Steve, ‘le piece de resistance’ aka my instructor.

Not knowing how competent (or otherwise) I was on a horse, I was given possibly the laziest animal in mankind. Nicknamed the hamster, although I’m not sure why, he moved slower than time when you’re at the dentist.  Just as well though as it gave me the chance to ‘master’ my position and balance.

The reins are held differently, your legs sit in a different position and the horse is controlled differently that conventional riding but I fast ‘retrained’ … despite much hilarity from Steve who clearly wasn’t quite as impressed with my progress as I was!

Then on to the swing.  The stick is basically a pendulum and you swing it with a 360 degree movement. The move really comes from your shoulder and your entire body moves from side to side. Bet it’s great as a waist cincher … perfect timing what with being in the midst of LBD season.

The hardest thing is to canter whilst thinking about your position and your swing and at the same time, keeping your eye on the ball. I did eventually get there … and even hit a few balls, but not without lots of frustration … and laughter. I eventually blamed the hamster and traded horses with Steve.  (Two minutes later, I was holding on for dear life.)

All in all, I had a truly fab afternoon.  I hung around afterwards and watched a polo game in action. It all seemed rather surreal, as in front of me, the sun was shining, spectators were chilling and a fast-paced game was in full swing (no pun intended) whilst behind me, cheesy Christmas tunes were blaring from the speakers, a beautiful tree was ready to be lit and a stack of waiters, all in santa hats, were practising their carol singing for an event this evening …

When eventually I left, I did so basking in my serendipitous experience. It’s quite a tough game to master I think, but as with anything in life, give it time and commitment, and all will fast come together.  It’s a really enjoyable sport too … no wonder it’s becoming so hugely popular in all four corners.

I daresay though, my bottom may be screaming in the morning.  My walk back to the car alone, certainly would have had any observers think I’d struck lucky last night …

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