By Patty Wilber
We got lucky and got to spend the Christmas Holidays with the grand girls in Hawaii!
On Day 1 we dragged them to a polo lesson while Mom and Dad went to work!
If I lived on Oahu, I think I polo might be a horse sport to try. Cows are not especially numerous and most cow stuff appears to be on the Big Island (at least based on my brief Internet research). It also seems a bit tricky to trail ride on some of the steep, slick jungle trails!
We have a been to a few polo matches here and I thought a polo lesson would be fun.
Of course, it was!
I went to Hawaii Polo Lessons. I rode a nice solid gelding that went when asked, picked up both leads and was easy to steer. Perfect, because I did not have to think about riding and could concentrate on trying to hit the ball!
For introductory purposes I used a softer and slightly larger rubber ball than the standard game ball. I tried to find a photo of one like it, for the blog, but struck out.
I learned a few basics about hitting the ball with the mallet on the ground–it is not like croquet–and practiced. Here is a video that shows how to hit the ball on horseback.
Then we mounted up. The saddle was English (perhaps that is obvious), with a string girth with English buckles and an over-girth that went all the way over the saddle. For extra stability, I suppose. There was also a breast collar.
The bridle was English and sturdy and the horse also wore a tie-down.
By the end of the lesson, I could hit the ball from a walk and a trot, 85% of the time. LOL. I even could hit it backwards (on purpose).
Another interesting point was that you spend a lot of time standing in the stirrups so the horse floats under you. Knees and toes are in for grip and balance. In cow horse, you keep your butt in the saddle and knees and toes are often out to allow the horse to move laterally with the cow.
Fascinating, and not too hard to make the adjustment for walk-trot solo polo ball-hitting practice.
Heat of the game? All bets would be off!
It was a lot of fun and since polo horses do learn to track the ball, it seems like hitting and following a large ball might even be entertaining for the cow horses. Of course, my arena is not fully fenced, which might prove somewhat challenging…
Leilani liked watching and when we came home, she wanted to wear my boots!
A few days later, we all went to a Madre Chocolate Tour at Nine Fine Mynahs Cacao Farm on the North Shore of Oahu.
It was a five acre, six-year-old farm (only six!) with eight varieties of chocolate trees. Ok, they are cacao trees and you make chocolate from cacao (also called cocoa–depends on where in the world you are!).
We got to sample raw fruit, dried beans, juice from the fermentation of the beans, roasted beans, hot chocolate, chocolate tea, chocolate covered bananas (we dressed them ourselves), and gourmet chocolate bars. Yum.
We also got to meet the trees and see how tricky it is to grow cacao at the “North Pole of Chocolate”. It is nearly too COLD in Hawaii to grow cacao!
I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday week. Next week, you can look forward to the New Year’s poem! Oh Boy!