The beginner polo group is filled with riders of all levels – from those who’ve jumped for years and are currently looking for a change in discipline to people who have only been on a horse before a handful of times in their life. Everyone is welcome in beginner group.
There is something to be said about the atmosphere created by everyone starting to learn polo together. It isn’t always easy, but there is a huge sense of camaraderie and support. That’s one thing I try to encourage as an instructor.
Polo is a team sport, so the beginner group focuses on drills that can get everyone working together. We start at a low speed, and then as the riders get more confident we repeat the drills faster. One of the drills we practice is hitting down the arena, and when you miss your partner comes up from behind and continues hitting. This simulates what would happen in a real chukker, where a player would hit the ball and follow through. If they miss, a teammate would ride up and try and make a play while they circled behind to support their teammate.
Every week in group we try to work on a new skill, or something we’ve found to be particularly difficult. We spend the first few minutes warming up and hitting the ball, then we work on some familiar drills finally moving into the new material. After the first week (when everyone is comfortable on their horse and hitting the ball), we do a practice chukker at the end of every lesson. This really helps everyone see where fouls might occur, what happens when someone fouls, and how to use the skills that they practiced earlier in the lesson in a real scenario.
The biggest part of the beginner polo group is that everyone is learning and having fun together. Sometimes people foul, sometimes people miss the ball, occasionally a horse stops in the middle of a lesson to poop and everyone laughs. There’s nothing quite like the beginner group to learn how to play polo.