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Polo

We went to a polo match yesterday. One more ‘L’ and it would have been a chicken match. Some new found friends, Bill and Connie, go there regularly and invited us along. 

We thought the match started at 2:30 so we got there about 3:00. The guy on the gate wouldn’t let us in as, he said, the match actually starts at four (ah, Mexico). It was odd that he didn’t let us in as there is a restaurant there, where we could have waited and had a beer. So instead, we decided to find a beach bar and have one there. 

Bill and Connie knew a place to go so we followed their lead. We found the place all right. It was a private restaurant and was closed but they agreed to serve us a beer. We, being the generous people we are, offered to pay for the drinks as they had done the driving. We are used to paying 20 pesos for a beer so when we got the bill we were a tad surprised to find they were 55 pesos each. Well, it was a bar in a private club, the setting was spectacular and they probably didn’t want us to come back anyway.

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Our view while having a beer.

The restaurant, the polo ground and the thousands of acres surrounding them are all on private property. 

We arrived back at the polo ground and this time got in without any bother. The crowds were huge! Actually, that’s not true: we were the only ones there who weren’t with a rider. There were about nine of us in the stands. We found and spoke to the organiser Susan, a lady from Yakima Washington, she informed us that it was just a practice match today and would start on time at 4:30. It didn’t! She also introduced us to one of the players, a young guy from Winnipeg. His name was Chris too.

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Before the match started. notice, no helmet

When it did finally get underway it was an interesting sport to watch. I tried to compare the rules to hockey but didn’t see how you could ice the ball from 300 yards. I’m sure I saw a few offsides though. Apparently, the rules are all about safety for both the horses and riders. The ponies get up to a pretty good speed in a race for the ball so the safety aspect is very important.polo

The polo ground is 300 by 160 yards. There are between four and six “chukkas” in a match. each lasting seven minutes. At the end of each chukka the riders get fresh horses and start again. Not knowing the rules, we couldn’t follow along too well but next time we go I want to read up on them first to be a bit more knowledgeable. One thing we did notice was the language on the field was a mixture of Spanish and English. See the video.

There was a good deal of body position and almost body checking as a player leans into an opponent to keep them away from the ball. They also try to lift an opponent’s stick to prevent them from getting the ball. It was very skilful riding and fun to watch. It was very similar tactics to hockey, except for the horses of course.

They do play serious matches there and players come from all over the world to play. All this entertainment and the best part was that it was free.

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