polo is posh
If you're looking for a posh sport, you can bet that polo should be on your list. With a history of some 2,000 years, the game played by riders on horseback, hitting a small ball upwards of 100 miles an hour is as exciting as you can imagine.
And along with the athleticism, equestrian skill and teamwork of the players, Polo's spectators participate in charming traditions that endure to this day as well.
Polo came to India most likely from Persia in the 13th century. Its popularity spread through Great Britain and the United States as well as around the world, and today teams can be found in more than 80 countries.
The cost associated with training, owning and caring for a team of polo ponies can be exceptional, thus lending to the impression that polo is a rich person's game. In fact, because the ponies need to be rested between "chukkars" (periods of play), a polo player must have several ponies.
As polo has evolved, it has been adapted for play not only on a large open field, but also in an arena, and in an arena set out on a beach. The expansion of play to women has also broadened participation and spectator appeal.
Whether an exhibition game or at a club, spectators often bring their own refreshments in the form of a picnic. Some of the posh events involve extravagant packages, which may include extensive service of lavish food and drink, linen tablecloths and other niceties.
Two of the most well-known traditions of the polo match are divot stomping and the wearing of hats. Because outdoor polo is a fast-moving game on turf that can get quite torn up, the spectators are asked at half-time to "stomp divots" on the field. This means that the spectators, whether wearing high fashion or blue jeans, come out onto the field and help repair the field by "stomping" down pieces of the turf that the ponies have brought up in play. This, of course, is best done with a glass of champagne or other delightful libation in hand.
The other tradition that is associated with polo matches is the wearing of fanciful hats or bonnets. In this way, the spectators, often the female spectators, wear hats as a most notable accessory and way to express themselves. Originally, hats were worn to block the sun's rays during the outdoor polo matches, but more and more, hats became a fun way to display some originality and flair. There are sometimes even contests for the most creative, most dramatic and most classic type of hat, and the competitors can parade around displaying their entries and trying to gain favor. You can learn more about the Polo lifestyle by reading some of the popular magazines surrounding it, such as Polo and More and Polo Players' Edition.
So, for a different experience involving international sporting challenge, equestrian feats and some fun posh people-watching, polo is a great way to spend the afternoon. If you are a little more than intrigued, you can even take some lessons and learn to play polo yourself. Check out Polo 101 to find out more.