Monday, March 10, 2008

Stuck on Polo

We were playing a tournament at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. It was arena polo, similar to hockey in that it's a physical team game played off the walls, and similar to rodeo in that it's rough, fast fun in a dirt arena.

The other team's fans were booing me. I took it as a compliment - they considered me a threat, and I had scored on them already, taking the ball all the way down the wall right in front of a hissing crowd.

One of my horses, Superiora, was and is to this day the fastest thing I have ever ridden. A gorgeous chestnut running quarter horse, 'Supie' resembled a rubber band that was constantly wound very tightly.

When I first saw her, she was out in an arena practicing incredibly fast rollbacks. By herself.

She loved speed and loved to play. Unfortunately, her prior owner had fried her brain on polo, so once she got going she was nearly impossible to stop. I taught her barrels, which she loved, to the point that as we flew out of the arena after our turn, she'd do a rollback in an attempt to go back and do it again. The lateral 'g' forces as she whipped around the barrels made me physically nauseous. I'd dismount and not be able to stand. Anyway, she was intense and I got her cheap because most people were afraid of her.

Near the end of this particular tournament, I took a shot at the goal and missed. However, the ball bounced off the wall and I was able to spin around on Supie and attempt a near-side back shot. This is where you lean your right hand and mallet way up and out over your left side, and swing down and back over the left side of your horse, sending the ball flying back behind you. Horses naturally don't like having big sticks raised high over their heads, but good polo ponies tolerate it because they know something exciting is about to happen.

And of course it did. The ball bumped a dirt clod, I missed my shot completely and hooked my mallet around Supie's butt. Unfortunately, the end of the mallet lodged under her tail and stuck. Startled, Supie clamped her tail down and reared. At that angle and degree of horsey muscle tension, try as I might, I couldn't dislodge the mallet. To make matters worse, my right arm was extended out across the left side of my body, my upper body hanging out over arena dirt, trying to keep the stick from falling under Supie's legs.

There was a gasp from the crowd as Supie and I crowhopped and bucked the length of the arena. All the while I was hoping Supie would "exhale" enough so I could pull the bamboo enema from my mare's behind.

Finally it came out. I was beet red, half from fear and half from embarrassment. Supie was pawing the ground, flicking her tail like a mad cat, just as embarrassed as I was. The crowd was now roaring with laughter.

At least we won.

1 comment:

insomniac said...

oh, the equinity!!!