Hit that arena ball!

Here I am again at Norfolk Polo, ready for my second lesson.

I can’t wait or I wouldn’t have been able to wait, if the friend I was coming with, hadn’t cried off earlier in the week, and I hadn’t experienced the pleasure of driving through the market town of Loddon, where its gurning inhabitants force you to reverse over a mile down a winding street because the cars are on your side of the road, when they could simply stop at the junction for a moment and let you through.

Next time I will ignore sat nav if it tries to take me this way.

I walk into the clubhouse, catch sight of my instructor and bound over to say hi and pay before the lesson.

The instructor looks up, says hi and carries on looking at the computer and chatting to the woman next to him. I shuffle and play with my keys.

Thankfully, a glossy haired woman arrives at the adjacent desk to take my money.  I sink into a black leather sofa and filck through the Norfolk Polo Club magazine.

It is now 12.30, time for my lesson; the instructor collects me, a polo stick and a polo pony en route.

Today’s horse is Baja, a nippy little mare and I learn that last week’s horse was called Capito, not Pepito. Translated as Captain, but Capito isn’t spanish for Captain?

The lesson is an hour long, where I am very much left to my own devices, while the instructor fiddles with his phone. I am hitting the ball with minimal professional input and think I could do this at home if I bought a stick and some arena balls! The instructor on the other hand, is probably thinking, if I don’t look at her, she might hit the ball!

It’s windy and my right eye is watering. My polo stick feels like lead today, but when the wind catches it, it blows all over the place and I struggle to keep it in the air. What am I doing here?

I am annoyed that the instructor is still fiddling with his phone and more annoyed with myself for not telling him to stop! Not that I would tell him to stop, which makes me even more annoyed with myself. I cringe at the price of the lesson and some more when I think I’m not sure he’s even seen me hit a ball!

My hour is up. I feel deflated. Maybe this is how all second lessons go; you practise?

The instructor asks if I have my own horse but doesn’t wait to hear the answer and is fiddling with his phone again. And I wonder if I were wanting to buy and livery my own polo ponies there whether he’d be more interested or whether he has the same amicable ambivalence for anyone at this stage in their game.

Or could it be he is interested in my game, but just can’t bear to watch as I hack the sand and struggle with my polo stick in the wind?

As my instructor is going to South Africa for three weeks, I think maybe I should still have lessons while he’s away or I’ll never hit that arena ball, but he’s Norfolk Polo’s only instructor; Suffolk Polo doesn’t have any polo ponies, you have to have your own; and another local arena club has all their ponies on winter livery.

Will I have the skills and resources to play a game of polo by the start of next season?

All I can say is, it is a good job I’ve started early!





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