I've enjoyed many polo matches and rodeos over the years. I've marveled at how the participants had such athleticism and control with the horses. However, that didn't mean that I wanted to participate. I've never been a huge fan of horseback riding. This probably dates back to the time I was a preteen in Camp Fire Girls. We went to a local horseback riding stable where you could ride around a field. Since they didn't have enough horses for our group, I had to double up with another girl. All the horses were walking at a slow pace, single file around the fence perimeter. Then, the horse my friend and I were riding took off! Even though I was sitting upfront, I was still terrified! The stable employee caught up to us and walked us safely back to the stable. That was the first time, and probably the last time, I was on a horse. It's funny how those childhood memories can stick with you your entire life.
After decades of avoiding horseback riding opportunities, I decided to try the 2 hour Polo Clinic at the Houston Polo Club. It was so much fun! There was a very small group of us for the lesson. We had a mother/daughter instructing team, Barlee Flanders and Paige Luplow. They were awesome instructors! First we learned how to swing the mallet. We donned helmets and took turns in the iron horse hitting cage. The polo ball would roll down a short ramp next to us where we would take our swing. I was never any good at softball or golf, but I could usually make contact with the ball in golf. That's what this reminded me of. After each hit, the ball would roll through the maze and make it's way back to us, as in a pinball game, but without the bells. The instructor gave us tips or praise with each swing. They started us on the fake horse so we could learn to swing straight, and not hit the real horse! Once we mastered the mallet swing, they took us to the arena where we each got on a horse. Since no previous riding experience is required, it was fine that I was a beginner. We learned the basics of how to direct the horse: walk, trot, turn, stop, etc. I was thankful that the instructors were very patient. We then got to hit the ball while on the horse. By the way, you have to be standing when you take the swing. That takes more coordination than you think. We first hit the balls while the horse was at a standstill. Then we took turns circling around the arena and took our swings while the horse was moving towards the ball. The instructors gave us a short distance to the goal and cheered us on with each “goal.” After 2 short hours, our class was over. I left with a sense of accomplishment and a euphoric high. If you are looking for a fun and unique experience, I would recommend this polo clinic. The clinics are offered the month before the spring and fall seasons. They also offer private corporate polo clinics for those interested in a different type team building activity.
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? You might surprise yourself.