An afternoon with horses, a game of polo, an outdoor barbeque and awesome people? Count me in.
I went up to the Manila North Polo Club in Pulilan, Bulacan this weekend to join Sasja in her polo game. Sasja has always been fond of horses, as she started riding when she was a little kid in the Netherlands. She has carried her love of anything equine to her passion for polo, a game that is truly fascinating for me because of its tradition and its sportsmanship.
I don’t know much about polo but it’s interesting to see it in action.
Let’s start with the beautiful horses.
Polo horses are called ponies, though actual ponies are much tinier.
Mr. Jun Eusebio, owner of this vast estate, the polo grounds and the stables.
Horses truly are majestic creatures.
No wonder they say polo is the so-called “Sport of the Kings” because only a king or someone really loaded could really afford to keep up with this sport. Not only the equipment is expensive, you also often have to pay a membership fee to a polo club that goes into association dues and the maintenance of the lawn and grounds, among many others. Also, because of the long-standing tradition of switching ponies to allow the horses to rest after a 7-minute quarter called a chukka, each player needs at least 4 horses. That’s 16 horses to a team of 4, and at least 32 horses needed for each game. I find that interesting because as much as this is a sport for the polo players, the rules of the game put such high regard on their mounts as well. Here they are lined up so that the players can switch horses in between chukkas.
Changing ponies in between chukkas has to be attended by groomers who take care and know these horses very well. A tired horse doesn’t perform well, and polo’s intensive play of stops, turns, and sudden bursts of speed could really wear these magnificent beasts down. That’s why it’s requisite for the rules of the game to allow for such respect for polo ponies.
Sasja astride her fine horse, Gatsby.
Cheers to a great game!