Hmmm… where do I start? I can’t do justice to this question without going back in time.
My love for horses pulled me into this game. This love for horses started when I was a child. I was the boy who was always in line for horse riding during funfairs and picnics. However, my first “permanent” encounter with horses was at age 8. Our neighbors had just got someone to teach them horse riding twice a week, and I nagged my parents into paying for the lessons for my sister and I. Soon enough; I had surpassed the expectation of the tutor. He was so impressed, he started coming with two horses, one for me to just gallop away on my own and the other for the remaining three students. Twice a week wasn’t satiating me any more – I wanted more. We lived close to the Polo Club in Kaduna and I started wandering down there most afternoons even when I knew I shouldn’t. I would collect all my pocket money and spend it on horse rides. I had become a regular, and for times when my pocket money was used up, I got the rides for free… after all, I was a loyal customer. Soon enough this got old, I wanted and needed more. I pleaded with my dad to buy me a horse, but as expected I got a lecture on how expensive maintaining a horse is, and I told him not to worry about that – All I needed him to do was to buy me the horse, and I would sort the feeding out. I had this grand idea of renting the horse out on alternate days to raise money for the feeding, not even knowing how much that would cost. All I knew was that I wanted a horse and nothing was going to stop me. I started with subtle reminders, then more aggressive reminders, and sometimes even throwing tantrums – still my father did not budge. Sensing that he was just too busy to go and get me the horse I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to Murtala Square, and told one of the numerous guys there selling horses that I would like to buy a horse, but he would have to follow me home so my dad can pay him, I think it was my confidence that moved the man to agree to follow me, or maybe he was just not willing to take any chances, anyways, to cut the long story short, my parents apologized to the man, and I think I was grounded for a while.
That brings me back to the question at hand, the number one thing I love about polo are the HORSES.
Next, is the thrill of the game. I am yet to partake in anything that gives me such a rush as Polo does. Whatever problems or stress I might be going through, the moment I saddle up, the problems just disappear, and I dismount feeling refreshed, it is like a reset button. I have this saying “Feeling down? Saddle up.”
The third thing I love about polo is the people; Polo players are usually perceived as uptight and snobbish, seeing as the game is stereotyped to be only for the rich, popularly tagged “The Game of Kings”. However, some of the nicest and most down to earth people I have met are polo players. Whatever you need, there is always a polo player that can, and is willing to help out, especially as the game draws people from different walks of life, so you have a wide variety of connections at your disposal. The Polo brotherhood is amazing, and the bond we share can’t be found in any other sport or endeavor.
The fourth would have to be the opportunity to travel for tournaments. In Nigeria alone, I have been to a number of exotic places because of polo; from Abraka Turf Club in Delta State to Fifth Chukker Resorts in Kaduna, Africa Beach Polo Arena in Lagos and Porto Golf Resort in Kano state, all truly beautiful places. Nigeria being rich in culture, polo paves the way to experience diverse cultures and interact with a wide array of people.
Last but in no way the least, Polo is an amazing way to actually keep fit, as it works the major muscle groups of the body. Also, because of the love we have for the game we don’t really view it as working out. I would rather play polo all day than to spend 1 hour in the gym.
Oty is Co-Founder of Valda Group, and a Horse Lover. He is deeply passionate about Life, Horses and Polo.
Follow Him On Instagram: @Oty_polo