This summer has loads in store for families! We're launching our brand new Learn Together programme to give families more enriching and engaging experiences while on holiday. From surfing and sailing to cycling, scuba diving and even polo, families will learn a new sport with their own expert instructor in one of our clients' favourite Mediterranean resorts. Lots of learning and laughing are sure to ensue.
Our Learn Together Polo programme is based at our own polo farm, Polo Valley in Sotogrande, Spain, with excellent facilities, world-class ponies and expert instructors. There's also a beautiful guesthouse on-site which is perfect for families, with its own sparkling pool.
As with all our programmes, Learn Together is completely flexible so we'll help you find the perfect balance between enjoying your new sport and relaxing in the resort or exploring its surrounds. We recommend morning sessions with our instructors before enjoying a more laid back afternoon.
We spoke to one of our expert polo instructors about this exciting programme.
1. What techniques will beginners learn and what should their aim be for the end of the week?
Beginners will learn the techniques used by high goal players, excelling your progress while still getting the basics right. No tips or secrets will be withheld!
By the end of the week, you will be able to do shots from both offside and nearside at a canter.
You will also learn how to ride polo ponies, beginning with safety and control and then learning how to get the most out of them by asking with the right aids, using your body weight and balancing correctly, keeping soft but firm hands on the reins and lots more, all skills which are made much easier on our string of exceptionally well-trained school horses.
If you are new to being around horses you will also learn all about handling them, reading their body language and different behaviours. You'll experience their kind and honest nature first hand and develop your own horsemanship skills alongside your riding and mallet work.
2. Is polo a good game for families (with kids over 8 years) to learn together?
Absolutely! Polo is the most amazing game for the whole family to play. It is a perfect group-oriented activity for building bonds and trying something completely different as an escape from the normal routine. Sharing this unique experience and learning together often brings out people’s competitive side, as family members get caught up in trying to match each other's progress while sharing an exhilarating activity together. The lifestyle surrounding polo is also very family-orientated and community-based, bringing family members and groups closer and while being around the horses, everyone will experience a new way of life too.
3. Are families able to get involved in the 'behind the scenes' side of Polo Valley, to get an insight into the workings of a polo farm?
We encourage guests and children to take the opportunity to spend time getting to know the horses and interact with little Soto, our Shetland pony. We feel it’s important to take the time to teach those who are inexperienced how to handle horses safely on the ground as well as while riding.
You will learn equine body language, what it means and get to know the ponies' individual personalities. There is a lot that goes into the care of a horse, and for anyone interested in learning, we are more than happy to show and explain it all to them. The beautiful property is a safe environment perfect for learning and relaxing with a wonderful atmosphere and staying in the guesthouse on the property means that you'll be right in the thick of things.
4. What can advanced polo players expect at Polo Valley?
Advanced polo players, can expect a technique improvement applied to their swing and riding skills, all carefully monitored by our professional coaches. They will play with a mix of professional players like Diogo Gallego (a 5 goal professional who is considered Portugal’s best polo player) and our onsite team of 1 to 3 goal professionals and be taught by the likes of Hernan Pieres from the famous Pieres polo family – one of the best known names in polo.
5. What equipment is provided for riders at Polo Valley?
We are fully equipped to supply guests with everything they need to stay and play here with us and when guests arrive we organise their kit for them, which is theirs for the duration of their stay. Our room is stocked full of boots, hats, mallets, kneepads and other polo kit in sizes to fit everyone. Even those who have kit often prefer to travel light and find it far more convenient to use ours rather than travel with their own.
6. What do you enjoy most about teaching polo?
The thing that I most enjoy about teaching polo is seeing the excitement and happy faces of those that thought they couldn’t possibly do it... and Voila! They're playing in no time!
Everyone’s first experience and strengths and weaknesses are different, so there is always a new and interesting challenge as a coach when you take to the field. Being part of someone’s first polo experience is a privilege and watching someone becoming hooked on a passion of yours never gets old.
To find out more about our unique Learn Together programme and Polo Valley, call 020 8246 5300 or click here.