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This summer,  I seem to  have been inundated with references and invites to all sorts of polo related activities.

The staff at a local company I know play and even have their own team. I recently attended an event hosted by the Argentinean Embassy to meet the team from the stunning Polo Collection of Hotels.  More and more people are using polo for corporate hospitality and Mint Polo in the park has been extensively marketed this year.

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Anybody who knows me, will know I love all things equestrian and after writing a magazine review of the beautiful Coworth Park, I vowed to go back for a polo lesson.  So one rare and recent sunny Monday evening, my good friend Tessa and I drove nervously into the grounds to  find the Guards Polo Academy at Coworth Park.  I say nervously because although I have ridden for years and recently completed the Mary Towneley Loop on horseback I know the risks, and experience tells me that falling off hurts, quite a lot.

HRH, the Duke of Edinburgh is the President of the club; originally named the Household Brigade Polo Club.  The main base is in the beautiful setting of Windsor Great Park.  So ladies if you are going to try this exciting sport there’s nothing like a taster at not only the best club in the UK, with an impressive pedigree of both horses and players, but also the largest in Europe.

Our instructor Guy Verdon soon  put us at ease,  we weren’t allowed near the ponies until we had learned to hit the ball in a straight line.

Not as easy as it first looks but after much hilarity and frustration, swinging a shortened mallet around  (it was clear that neither of us were golf masters or croquet champions), we were promoted to the wooden horses.

polo4This time we were given full-sized sticks and practiced more shots with the aim of not hitting the horse in the process.  After a few fluke, lucky shots, and Guy expertly dodging the flying balls, we graduated to the real ponies.  Barely with both feet in the stirrups, Guy’s wife Charlotte announced that my thoroughbred, Libgatt is an ex-racehorse and to be careful as she has a very tight turn.  Nerves return.

We are soon trotting off into the field however and the concentration needed to put everything we learned into practice and the thrill of being back in the saddle was a welcome distraction, I was hooked.

Trying to get a decent shot is completely addictive and as disappointing for the pony when you miss it as it is for you. Poor Libgatt had to do lots of turns on this particular evening as we went in again and again for retries.  I actually felt very safe, the ponies were impeccably well-mannered, well-school and patient. In fact I was most affronted when at one point Guy yelled

come on ladies push them on, they are meant to be sports horses“!

Don’t worry, if you’ve never ridden a horse, you can still take polo lessons, albeit at a slightly slower pace.

Sadly our lesson was over all too quickly and I’m ashamed to say my ball didn’t make it back to base under the expert guidance of my stick, it was retrieved by manual means.

It had been an hour of exhilaration, beauty, fun, good company and a little bit of adrenalin, leaving me vowing to return for another lesson soon.

Tessa and I took advantage of the beautiful sunny evening, sipping a chilled Pimms on the terrace – polo is very thirsty work.  Having worked up an appetite we then devoured delicious, hearty comfort food whilst overlooking the estate, at The Barn at Coworth Park.

I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Monday evening.

For more information see Guards Polo Academy  

About the author

Carolyn Pearson is our Travel blogger and founder of Maiden-voyage.com. maiden-voyage.com is an award winning global business travel network for professional women. Follow Maiden-Voyage: Facebook, Twitter, Linked In

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