Buro Tries: Polo with the Putra Polo Club
The sport of kings
Known as the sport of kings, polo has been around for centuries and it was at one time, a competing category at the Olympics. The game is said to have originated from ancient Persia but the modern version of polo actually derived from India. It's one of the world's oldest, fastest—a moving polo ball can travel up to 110 miles per hour (approximately 177 km/h)—and dangerous games that require both man and horse to work together towards a common goal—the one that the polo ball goes through.
Generally, a polo game is played between two teams with four players on each side, and with the help of a mallet. It would usually last for about two hours and watching the game is usually quite thrilling—but playing it on the field? Challenge accepted.
Watch the video below to see the Buro 24/7 Malaysia team tackle the basics of playing polo.
Cai Mei Khoo, Editor-in-Chief
Polo is something I've always wanted to try but never got round to it because of a) lack of time; and more so b) fear of falling off my horse and breaking my collarbone—yes, collarbone specifically. I've had a few riding classes before so I knew enough not to be thrown off my horse during this polo 101 session but that said, polo ponies are generally more well-behaved than equestrian horses, some of which can be really temperamental. While polo pros make something as simple as riding with the polo mallet over the shoulder look easy, I found it to be incredibly difficult, with the mallet constantly hitting my shoulder like some sort of traditional Chinese massage, and left me with a bruise on my shoulder the next day.
Like everything else worth doing, practice makes perfect and with polo, you'll definitely need to know the basics of riding before you start. It also helps to have good hand-eye coordination and a healthy dose of patience—the key in hitting the ball correctly is to relax and swing slow; similar to a golf swing, it's not about how hard you hit the ball. It will take me years of practice to get anywhere decent with polo but for now, I think I'd like to dust off my riding boots and get back to riding.
Jason Lim, Fashion Editor
We (in Malaysia) learned to drive in old beat-up Kancils that have been used and abused by droves of nervous students, so when offered the chance to drive an F1 car, I knew I'd be foolish not to seize the opportunity. A polo pony is that F1 car and the horses at my old riding school were the Kancils. I haven't been on horseback in years and the anxiety was telling, but even having an extra pair of reins and wielding a mallet for the first time, the animal beneath me was calm, responsive and an absolute dream to ride. Polo is a hard and fast sport, and the ponies have to be athletes of the highest order: they have to be quick on their feet, must be able to stop and turn and react at high speeds and have to be extremely obedient in order to work in tandem with their riders.
One lesson was hardly enough time to grasp the basics of the game but it gave me the utmost respect for the passion and dedication required by the men and women who play polo. It isn't just a sport, but a lifestyle that involves countless hours of training; not only requiring the riders to be in peak physical condition but also the care and maintenance of the most important part of the game—their ponies. There is such poetry in the synchronisation of horse and rider charging down a field with mallets raised like graceful battle axes, which is at once beautiful, dangerous and exhilarating. Is it for me? The lesson certainly reinvigorated my love for riding but I am not brave (or foolish?) enough to want to do this again. But to watch others venture where I dare not go? I'll be cheering from the comfort and safety of the stands.
The Malaysian Open Polo Tournament runs from 5th to 23rd October 2016. Admission is free. For more info, visit their website.