HPA guidance for beginners.
Advice for those thinking about learning to play polo.
Find a local club that offers lessons. Clubs offer a wide range of coaching facilities through out the year, for complete beginners through to experienced players so it is best to speak to the polo manager to see if they can offer what you are looking for. You can search for clubs in your area via the HPA website at www.hpa-polo.co.uk
The Ryan Pemble Polo Academy is based at Fifield Polo Club. This club is HPA affiliated and holds a riding school license which means you are covered by accident insurance while taking lessons using school ponies. The club has a floodlit all weather arena ideal for complete beginners, a stick and ball field and three boarded polo fields. The academy instructors can teach at other HPA affiliated clubs.
How do I know if my instructor is any good? The HPA hold a list of accredited instructors. They have all attended training courses and passed assessment by the Official HPA Team Coaches.
Ryan Pemble is an Official Team Coach, and his team of instructors are all HPA accredited.
Haven’t ridden previously? – don’t panic! Many people come into the sport having never ridden before so the polo ponies that are used for coaching should be experienced in handling nervous and/or inexperienced passengers!
The manager at Fifield (Julia Luke) has a large selection of school ponies available. The ponies range in their suitability for complete beginners to more accomplished riders and Julia is adept at matching horse to rider. You will be asked about your level of previous riding experience and your first lesson will begin with a period of assessment from your instructor.
Equipment. If you are new to riding then at some suitable stage you will need to purchase either a pair of polo boots or a pair of short jodhpur boots to wear with half chaps to protect your legs and a riding hat or polo hat; it is also advisable to wear a pair of gloves to help prevent blisters.
Some riding hats are available at Fifield for use by complete beginners, but it is advised you purchase your own to ensure correct fit and comfort. Your instructor will supply you with a stick to use for your first polo lessons.
Having had a few lessons your instructor is likely to introduce you to instructional chukkas; the time scale for this or the number of lessons to reach this stage depends a lot on your previous riding experience, confidence and fitness and can vary a lot between riders so it is best to listen to his or her advice. Now is the time to consider investing in your own stick/s and some knee pads to protect you against knocks from other players and ponies.
Get advice from your instructor about what weight of stick and length you should buy. Your instructor will be happy to help you buy your polo equipment. We advice you also wear eye protection or a face guard while playing polo.
Ready to take up polo on a more regular basis? The first step is to select a club. Which one you choose may be down to a clubs locality and its facilities. It is possible that you will decide to join the club where you have been having lessons but the most important thing is that they can provide what you are looking for. If they are not known to you, then it is advisable to go and meet the polo manager and/or coach and find out as much as you can.
You will want to join a friendly low goal club like Fifield Polo Club where chukkas and matches are suitable for players with low handicaps and not much experience. At these clubs the professionals will instruct you, involve you in the game, and help you enjoy your polo. Clubs normally charge different rates for chukka membership and full membership.
When you join an HPA affiliated club you will have a number of membership options. Amongst these there will be ‘Chukka’ and ‘Full’ membership. As a chukka member you are only allowed to play in ‘practice’ chukkas at your own club. This option is probably advisable until your coach/instructor thinks you are ready to play in proper matches. Once you have been given the go ahead to play in full matches you need to join the HPA as a ‘Full’ member.
HPA Chukka and HPA Full Associate membership is paid to the club which you have joined, and they send your registration to the HPA. If you want to play during the winter season then HPA Arena membership will also need be registered through your club.
It is up to the club to ensure they forward your membership details to the HPA. Until this is done you are not entitled to play as you will not be covered by the HPA’s Public Liability insurance cover.
The HPA’s A to Z of Polo is a guide to the terminology of polo.
Click on the download below for a pdf copy.