By Derek MacLennan
Polo appealed to me because I'm an active 52-year-old dad that believes there is still life in the old dog yet. I have been riding for 10 years: my previous mid-life crisis – instead of Golf or a Harley or indeed having an affair, I opted for learning to ride a horse and have never looked back. Although it definitely helps to be able to ride a horse (from a confidence and balance point of view), Polo Valley can train you to play polo within a few weeks from standing start. That’s because the polo ponies are so well trained and know their job inside out, allowing the training to focus on you and you alone.
The itinerary tends to be wake up and stretch by the pool to ensure you are fully flexed before your morning polo training session. Mount your horse and warm up. Then partake in 50 minutes intensive polo training with your mallet, polo pony, some colleagues and the trainer – who soon become your polo-playing friends.
The rest of the morning is usually spent recovering from the training ;-) either by the pool, on the beach or at the beach club and, if you have your family in tow, enjoying all that Sotogrande has to offer with them until your early evening polo session. The cool of the evening brings the chance to play chukkas – the polo term for a game. This involves being divided into two teams (of maximum 4 aside) and literally playing a game: trying to hit the ball with your polo mallet into the opposing team's goal. You learn the rules, how to play safe and what is considered foul play.
After about an hour on the playing field, including a 5 minute half time break, you'll hear the final whistle which signals time for a well deserved G&T. Then it's shower time before dinner, which is either an Argentinian BBQ onsite at Polo Valley resort or some nice Spanish cuisine at a local restaurant. If you still have energy there are countless bars and clubs to frequent – but remember you'll need to be up tomorrow before the sun rises to stretch and get ready to mount a new polo pony (they change your pony daily to maximise your experience). Onsite massages and yoga are available to book throughout your stay as needed.
I stayed a week on my own to decide if I liked it – of course, I loved it. I am returning with my family next week to continue the Polo Valley journey…
For more information on this captivating sport, click here or call 020 8246 5300 to speak to one of our Travel Consultants.