POLO IN UNPRECEDENTED TIMES
Almost ten months down in the post COVID 19 world, most of us have adjusted to the new normal. From working from home to considering grocery shopping as the substitute to travelling, we did it all. However, things are even more complicated when you have a horse in the equation. For, unlike a car, horses can’t just be greased and parked in a garage. Lock down or no lock down, they need constant care, feed and exercise.
There are many disciplines involving horses as a co athlete and almost all innovated in order to cater for the need of horses under the newly imposed restrictions. Last we talked at length about the upkeep of equestrian horses with Josepha Gullemere. This time we interacted with Garrie Renucci, a known name in UK polo circuit as a dynamic polo player and a patron.
Preparations During The COVID 19 Lock Down
As per Garrie, of all the mounted sports, managing a polo team is unarguably the most challenging one. Sheer number of the horses involved with the sport takes the problem to an entirely different level.Talking about his own experience, Garrie remembers that when the lock down was announced he was in London, while his horses were at his farm. As a result he had to bank on his grooms to keep his horses on work. For his own fitness, Garrie had nothing more than walking and running. Though these arrangements took care of the basic requirements but when it comes to the 'Game Fitness' it takes much more than that.
Both horses and players need to play lots of practice chakkars in order to achieve the required sharpness. Although a certain numbers of chakkars were allowed under restrictions like three players aside and no 'body contact' but this was nowhere close to the desired practice. No wonder, the horses were all peppy during their first match and the fact that this was the first time most players were sitting on their horses post lock down, didn't help either. But after having faced almost half a year of ‘no polo’ phase, none of the players was complaining.
How Polo Changed Post COVID 19
Talking about how the experience post covid was different, the first thing Garrie mentioned was empty stands. As only two grooms were allowed per player, for the first time in his life he was playing for an empty stand. The feeling of not having his friends and supporters was unsettling. Another thing that disturbed most of the teams was absence of their non-English professional players. In his case Vendetta Polo team missed the ever-present guidance and support of Jimmy Wood, a professional polo player from Wood polo dynasty in New Zealand. As no flights were allowed during the time, Garrie had to make temporary arrangements for the season but he is sanguine that in the year 2021, they will have the reassuring presence of Jimmy.
Humane Side of the Polo Community
Considering the hardship faced by people from all walks of life, he was happy about the fact that the polo community decided not to use the prize money. They gave the same to charity instead. When asked if he wants to add anything, Garrie said that he would like to thank all the sponsors, polo clubs, management, players and grooms for having worked so hard to make ‘polo’ possible even in these unusual circumstances.
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