Sunday, December 27, 2009

Horsing Around...

What to buy the man who has everything for Christmas? And by man, I mean my dear dad. Dads so often get the thin end of the wedge at Christmas, don’t they? The inevitable socks, aftershave, and if they’re lucky, some Clinique for Men. We like to do presents well in my family (in a shock move, you can ask for what you want, and get it) plus I wanted to spoil dad as I didn’t get to see him on his birthday at the beginning of December. And, well, it is Christmas, and I only see him once a year!

So what to choose? My dad loves horses, and by happy coincidence, so do the Arabs. With a bit of investigative research I discovered that you can go ‘behind-the-scenes’ at the Dubai Polo Club, by arranging a tour of the stables. The polo club is another one of those places that I just haven’t managed to get round to visiting, so it ticked all the boxes. Boom!

And what a gorgeous place and experience it was. It’s about a twenty minute drive from my apartment, so we set off at stupid o’clock in a state of high excitement. (Note: at this stage by dad still had no idea where he was going as we had managed to keep it a surprise.) And surprised he was when we arrived!

The drill is basically this: arrive at beautiful club house, be greeted by wonderfully charming staff, order your breakfast, to be scoffed on the terrace later, and then get taken round the stables by one of the riding instructors. I apologise for forgetting her name. I’m terrible with names! Let’s call her Polo Lady…..

It’s very laid back and we spent a pleasant hour chatting away to Polo Lady about the game, the ponies, how they go abut living their lives…..I’ll also admit to sneaking in a few questions about Argentinian polo players…hmmm.

Of course we got to stroke a few noses along the way which I was delighted about. The polo ponies are, as you would imagine, stunning creatures, as were the other horses stabled there. They live a pretty good life – hot showers and shampoos, daily exercise and grooming. One was on a homeopathic diet (only in Dubai, surely?!) and many owners bring their own fragrance shower gels for them Some polo pony facts:

They don’t have manes. Well, they do, but they’re closely cropped so as not to get tangled in the polo sticks (must check the proper lingo.)
Only lady ponies are used in the game. They’re much more focused than the men. Men tend to get easily distracted, and if they get a whiff of a lady pony, they’re off. Ah, how nature is consistent across the animal and human kingdom!
They are very smart, and learn that when they hear the whoosh of the polo stick and the sound of it hitting the ball, they have to yank their head up pretty darned quick to avoid getting hit on the head. That said, they can and do sustain a lot of injuries, bless them.

They cost up to $20, 000 each.
There are 4 ponies in a team and as they are changed frequently throughout the game, you need to have up to 8 ponies if you're going to play.It costs $1, 000 to stable a pony each month

You do the math! It ain't cheap!

After a happy hour imagining life with a hot Argentinian, we adjourned to the terrace for breakfast. the sun was shining, the air was fresh, the breakfast was delicious. Dad's verdict on the morning: "The best Christmas present ever!" Job done.

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