Friday, July 15, 2011

Maryland Polo Club

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is go to polo matches. The Maryland Polo Club’s grounds are located in Monkton, right behind Ladew Gardens, and matches are held every Friday at 6:00 and every Sunday at 3:00 from June until September. You pay $15 per car, tailgate along the sidelines, eat junk food, and watch the ponies – what could be better?! We usually pack a bunch of people into James’ Explorer, bring an assortment of cheeses, chips, and sweets (all the essentials, of course), and sit in our folding chairs to watch the match.

Polo is pretty laid back – there’s no need to dress up super fancy, but you won’t be out of place if you do. I usually wear a cute dress, or shorts and a fun shirt (and sometimes my Preakness hat!) and flip flops.

If Izzie didn’t love to chase horses, we would bring her for sure. So – if your dog is well-behaved and will sit quietly with you while horses gallop past, then by all means, bring him/her!

After the third chukker, halftime, the spectators are encouraged to head out onto the field to stomp the divots.  That's right - just like in Pretty Woman!  Here I am with my Preakness hat getting ready to do some stompin!.

Polo is a very fast-paced sport, but it’s easy to understand. There are four players on each team and there are six periods, called chukkers. Each chukker is 7 ½ minutes long. There are rules, of course, but the main one is that you can’t cross the invisible line that the ball makes. So if two players are flying up the field in hot pursuit of the ball, neither play can cross the line on which the ball traveled, making it illegal for one to cut the other off, essentially. That kind of behavior is just too dangerous on horseback! Each player has a number (1 – 4) and a different responsibility. Number 3 is usually the best player on the team – he/she can be thought of as the quarterback.

Grey polo pony!  Interesting fact - Misty was almost a polo pony.  A well-known Maryland Club polo player was coming to look at Misty an hour after my scheduled appointment.  He specifically wanted a "pretty grey"...but I snatched her up before he had the chance to see her amazingness!

Every time I go to a polo match, which is fairly often, I get an incredible urge to learn how to play…and I will, at some point. After I get where I want to be with my jumping and equitation, then I’ll switch disciplines and learn polo!

The best part of polo, if you play, is that you need 6 horses. SIX HORSES!! Yes, most people switch horses every chukker so their horse is fresh and ready to go. It wouldn’t be fair to ask a horse, who has to run hard and bump into others, to play more than one chukker per match.

So that’s right James – get ready – I WILL NEED SIX HORSES ONE DAY! Another cool thing about polo – men and women can play together. So I was hoping that when I learn to play, my husband will join me for some lessons too. Which means – WE WILL NEED 12 HORSES IN THE FAMILY!!

But if you’re looking for something fun to do on a summer afternoon/evening, head up to Monkton for a polo match. The sound of the horses’ hooves pounding up and down the field will give you chills.