Cincinnati Polo Club clinic teaches the sport

June 28th, 2012    Author: Chris Chaney    Filed Under: Sports

Cincinnati Polo Club’s Torie Front , left, looks on as clinic attendee Kristen McFarland, right, takes a swing at the ball.

The Cincinnati Polo Club held its first polo clinic of the year on Saturday, June 18 at Wilshire Farms, the club’s headquarters. Attendees were privy to one-on-one instruction as well as the chance to learn the rules and techniques of the game.

“It’s always good to have good people come out,” Keith Potter, President of the Cincinnati Polo Club, said. “We exposed (the attendees) to the rules of the game and we even had a slow, trot scrimmage where they got to actually play.”

The CPC has been enjoying a resurgence in the Cincinnati area over the past few years and the members are always eager to help those interested to understand and play the game. That was the objective for their clinic on Saturday.

The day began with the a welcome and introduction at 10 a.m. followed by a brief history of polo and what the United States Polo Association and Polo Training Foundation are all about. Vince Front, the club’s vice-president took care of that.

Next, the club talked the attendees about the rules of the game, before getting in some work on the CPC’s indoor polo ground.

The club members showed the attendees the proper way to hit the ball with the mallet – using the wide side of the mallet as opposed to the ends like you would in croquet – by using foot mallets, which are much shorter than the actual mallets you would use while on horseback.

Following the first hitting instruction, while still on the indoor field, members explained different strategies and rules involved with hooking, ride-offs, line-ups, and rotations.

Hooking occurs when a player uses his or her mallet to interfere with an opponent’s swing at the ball. However, a player can only hook if he or she is on the same side where the swing is being made or directly in front or behind the opponent.

Ride-offs and bumps are also defensive maneuvers that allow a player to take their opponent out of a play and by virtue off of the line of the ball.

Everything in polo is based on the line of the ball, which, simply put, is an imaginary line created by the ball as it travels. Players must approach the ball on the line of the ball in order to prevent injury to the player or the horses. Once off the line, players must rotate in a way that gets themselves and their mounts out of the way of the other competitors.

Following the campers’ rules seminar, they were taken out to ride Dreamer, a custom-made mechanical horse that simulates the motion of the horse while also feeding the rider balls to hit, similar to a batting cage.

Similar to baseball, tennis and golf, instead of hitting balls, in polo this is referred to as stick and balling. The only one of its kind in North America, Dreamer is a staple of the CPC and one of the neatest parts of the clinic.

Also, Kit Collins, a member of the club and a polo instructor, has taken golf swing analysis software and had it revamped to break down a polo swing on a computer just like you would with a golf swing.

Finally, as the day began to come to an end, the attendees were taken to the stables to prepare the horses for an actual game of polo. The attendees were taught how to prepare the horses, saddle them and tie the tails.

The attendees and members then took part in a slow-action game of polo that allowed the attendees a chance to play.

The Cincinnati Polo Club will have more clinics going forward that will follow a similar format. Both Potter and Torie Front, a member of the club, believe that the instructional way the camp is being run is the best possible way to get more people into polo. Front said that club will be planning another clinic sometime around October when the season wraps up.

For more information on the club or to inquire about lessons or joining, please visit cincinnatipoloclub.com.

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