When you sign up for a Riverlands Introduction to polo clinic you better be ready for one of the most fun and exciting days you'll ever have! (Nope this is not an exaggeration...That's exactly how I got started playing polo!) Whether it be to kick start playing a new sport/hobby, or just a fun day out trying something new with your mates...this is a great day for everyone.
I know exactly what you're thinking...
HOLY CRAP!!! I don't know if I can do this?
Im going to be hopeless!
That's a really fast and hard sport.
Everyone is going to laugh at me!!!!
Im not a very good rider.
Polo people are snobs!
WRONG WRONG & WRONG
Ok first of all, you're not going to be going THAT fast! We do everything at snail pace, until our students are ready to advance.
For those who are confident riders...Yes! You will definitely get to canter!
A lot of people who come to our intro to polo clinics have never even ridden a horse...So if you have, you've got a good head start.
If you have never ridden, don't worry! We will teach you. We often have clients that have never set foot on a horse, and have now gone on to play in tournaments and buy their own ponies.
On that note: WARNING!!!! POLO IS VERY ADDICTIVE!!! Once you start, you can't stop!
Thinking you're going to be really really bad at polo? Let me tell you something...It is highly likely that EVERYONE in the group is going to be pretty bad to start with...We've all been there!
FACT: Most people are actually so worried about what they look like, that they're too busy to look at what you're doing.
Oh and MOST polo players are very friendly and love helping new recruits advance in the sport. It's actually a great place to make new friends.
I bet you're thinking... How the hell can someone who has never ridden try polo right?
Well, to start with... the first "pony" you jump on will be a wooden one!
Fear not! Our wooden ponies are very well behaved. To this day, they have not bolted on one single person...even in 2020!
Your second mount will be one of our highly trained polo ponies (one that actually has a heartbeat & moves).
Now, I had been a rider my whole life, and when I jumped on my first Riverlands polo pony I was absolutely AHHH-MAAAZED!!! They are extremely well trained, very easy to turn, and more importantly slow down & stop. There's a good chance POLO ponies will be the best ponies you have ever ridden. *Ok we may be a little biased!
I know another thought that has probably popped into your head...
'I'm going to hit the pony with the polo mallet'
Most first time riders have a huge fear of this, and most don't even come close.
But, in the case that you do accidentally make contact with the pony, don't worry.
They're not going to take off 20 km's down the road.
Polo ponies are some of the toughest ponies i've ever met. They take the knocks and bumps in their stride, and usually never react, as they are used to having balls flying around them at a very fast pace. We also make sure they are wearing the best protective equipment to prevent injury.
What happens at a clinic?
You will start off meeting your coach and everyone in the group. He will give you a run down of what is happening for the day.
Depending on which Intro clinic you are doing (we have 2 types...a short 2 to 3 hour one, & a 2 day one which is usually the next step once you get addicted after your first short clinic), we usually start off on the ground with foot mallets (a very short polo mallet for practice on foot).
Your coach will run through some of the shots you can do for example forehand and backhand. You will practice this for a while before you advance to your very well behaved wooden steed.
Once you get on the wooden horse, you will be able to practice hitting the ball with a real polo mallet & at the correct height. You will learn balance, and how to lean out over the ball to hit it correctly. The coach will guide you to get your swing right before you head out on the real ponies.
The next step is getting fitted with a helmet if you haven't brought your own. Then you will be matched up with your new partner in crime. If you haven't ridden before, you will be helped on the horse and shown the ropes. Holding the reins, steering, how to sit in the saddle, how to stop, and everything you need to know. Those who have ridden may need a quick lesson on how to hold polo reins. We then head out and warm the horses up. Those who would like to just walk the entire time can definitely do so. If your'e feeling confident, you can have a canter around.
Your coach will teach you how to hit the ball whilst on the pony, and the basic 'polo pony specific' leg aids/commands to get them to do what you want. Once everyone is feeling confident, you will break up into teams and play a little mini game of polo. Don't be scared! It is usually a little bit tragic, but lots of fun. You will love it! This will probably be the highlight of the day! Again, you can walk the entire time if you would like.
Our short clinic is followed by a light lunch.
*The order of these events might change slightly depending on the day.
That's it... You've done it! You are now THE COOLEST person all your friends know! (just make sure you get a photo to prove it!) You will have met lot's of amazing like minded people and you now probably have an addiction to polo. But we can help you with that!
Most people who do this clinic can't wait to come back out and get on the horse again. We have several training options. Private lessons, group lessons, a polo academy that runs every weekend where you can play with other team members. We do several clinics during the year for beginners, intermediate & more advanced players, and if you're really into it you can work towards playing in tournaments.
* Check out the other blog topics on our website for everything you need to know about polo.
* Follow our facebook pages: Riverlands Polo, Riverlands Polo Victoria & Riverlands Corporate
* Follow us on Instagram @riverlandspolo
For those of you who need to improve your riding, we can tailor a program to get you started.
As mentioned, we do a longer 2 day clinic which is a more in depth version, focussing not only on the basics, but also on different shots...such as nearside and offside forehand and backhand, defence, hooking, riding off and more. Keep an eye out for an announcement on this one in the future.
What do I wear to a polo clinic?
If you're a seasoned rider, you will have all the gear. Jeans, jodhpurs/breeches, riding boots and helmet. If you're not a rider, you can wear long pants. Jeans are probably best. Boots are definitely the best option for your feet for safety and grip. You can buy a cheap pair at Horseland. You can wear white jeans if you would like, but for our clinics and lessons, any colour is suitable.
Check out what some of our clients had to say about our clinics & lessons at Riverlands Polo
Jack Raval: I started my training with Luke 'golden hands' O'leary last year in August . First time on a horse in my life . Seems like an impossible game to play if you don’t know how to ride, but Luke made it all easy. He has the best horses for all different levels of riders . His knowledge and professional approach towards the teaching helped me play my first tournament within a few months, and in one year's time I was able to not only participate in a 0 goal tournament, but also won the final. Highly recommend.
Kirsty Norwood: Having not ridden for 10 years I took part in a 2 day Intro to polo clinic in March 2018, I had so much fun I booked in for the Academy lesson the following weekend and 2 years on, i'm still playing and learning! And the added bonus is the new friends made on and off the field.
Sarah Harwood: I booked into my first polo clinic earlier 2020, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was probably a little nervous. I had grown up riding but had no idea about polo. I had such a great day, everyone was really friendly and helpful, I even made some new friends. I was surprised how quickly we actually got to hit a ball on the horses. I have continued with lessons and even did my first tournament this year. Everyone at Riverlands is great! I would highly recommend giving polo a try, it’s very addictive.
Jenieka Oakes: The introduction clinic was such a positive first polo experience. The coaches are so knowledgable and encouraging and the horses are so patient and well trained. I went from barely being able to hit the ball with a foot mallet to playing chukkas at the end of the second day and hitting the ball at a canter (which seemed impossible at the beginning!). The chukkas are so much fun and you’re guaranteed some good laughs. Nearly three years on and I’ve been back almost every weekend since!