It was a dream come true. It has been on my to-do list for many years, but this year I finally got to experience the Land Rover Polo in the City held at Dorrington Park in Brisbane's Ashgrove. It was a dazzling spectacle of impeccably dressed individuals, flowing champagne, music, dancing and of course the gracious horses and their handsome riders. Whoever said men can't multitask really must witness these boys managing to maneuver an animal, a mallet, a ball, and their balance.
Being my first polo, there were a few new words added to my vocabulary and a few traditions I had no idea existed. Here are five things you need to know to be a polo native at your next match.
What to wear ?
While I always envisaged the polo to rival with the Spring Racing Carnival, I was surprised to learn that less is actually more. Think stylish picnic. For ladies think straw hats, flowy but elegant frocks in bold prints like florals, gingham or even a polka dot. Wedges or elegant flats are a must, as you don’t want to be sinking into the grass all day. For gents the classic rolled up chino, smart casual shirt, loafers or boat shoes teamed together with something whimsical like a cravat or straw hat.
What is the throw-in?
There was a lot of hype before the throw-in. This is the name given to the opening of the play. The umpire throws the ball between the two teams as they line up parallel to one another.
What is a chukka?
I heard this term mentioned a few times throughout the day. As it turns out, a polo match is divided into timed periods called chukka. There are usually six in a match and each one is seven minutes long.
What is the divot Stomp?
At the end of every chukka, the polo players gallop off the field and the spectators swarm the grassy paddock to partake in the divot stomp where you literally have to pop the clumps of grass, aka divots, back into the field. Around this time the event organizers throw in a bit of fun and ask you to find a champagne cork, the lucky finder will win a bottle of champagne for their group.
Why are the horses called ponies?
The breathtaking Polo-playing thoroughbreds are actually referred to as “ponies” regardless of their size. The term was coined in the early days of the sport because the horses were restricted to pony size. Not sure why, but perhaps the polo players themselves were a little smaller also.
Why do the horses have braids?
All the ponies were rocking some pretty amazing made dos. This is not just for looks and acts to protect the horses’ manes. Manes could get tangled in mallets or reins if left flowing. The ponies’ tails are also wrapped or braided for the same reason. Some ponies also opt for the full shave of their mane. Whatever floats your boat I guess.
So there you have it. You are now ready for the next Polo in the City. Huge thanks to the team from Somersby Cider for inviting us and country manager of Carlsberg group Camilla Kuzon Olsen for explaining all the rules.
Image credit: Somersby