It’s a weird thing to admit, but I played polo for four years. I still do some practice riding for polo riders in my area. Strange admission, I know. The cliché is everyone wearing white dresses and white suits and big hats and sipping tea with their pinkies up.
I have been to places like that, usually as a groom and go-fer. I played with my university team. We rented a dozen stalls. There were perhaps two pieces of tack not held together by twine or duct tape. The other horses were show ponies, pampered, braided, even vacuumed. By comparison our ponies were scrappy. Their hair was shaved so they didn’t sweat as much. They were pushy, excitable, athletic little ponies and they would have been laughed out of a show ring. We took turns cleaning their stalls between classes, fixing things, feeding horses.
I’m not sure if you know it, but polo is ancient. It is thousands of years old. Originally it was played with a hundred players on each side, as training for war. The violent aspect of it stuck around though. I had bruises all over my legs and elbows and even got an impressive goose egg on my forehead. It got to the point that my roommates made jokes about how many nights I spent icing things.
Weirdly I miss that part. I miss aching, feeling like I fought hard. It’s a pain that feels more like an award. It feels earned. It’s been awhile since I’ve done something so physically taxing. I miss it.