Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In which I speak about polocrosse

My life for the last few weeks, well two to be exact, have been consumed by polocrosse.  It is an obscure equine sport - a child of a lessor god in some people's eye.  Created in Australia after observing a british riding school, the sport is played across the commonwealth, and came to the US in the mid-80s.  My association with this polo/lacrosse hybrid started in 1998, when a rather imposing District Commissioner of the local pony club informed me that as I had access to a fenced pasture, I was to host a polocrosse clinic.  Jeez - we already had eventing and foxhunting.  I was absolutely not interested in ANOTHER equine sport.  But, as not to cross the DC, who scared the hell out of me, I acquiesed.  As the day progressed it was clear that the little and not so little pony clubbers had gained another partipant in the clinic.  The husband of the madwoman was eagerly taking part, asking questions learning rules.  Within weeks the Carolina Polocrosse Club was formed, we were members of yet another equestrian organization, and plans were being made for tournaments and pony club rallies, travel to distant cow pastures on borrowed horses.  Over the years, we have gone from staying in hotels, stabling horses and cleaning leather tack to totally embracing the polocrosse way of life - camping out, turning horses out in electric pens and white biothane tack.  We have made friends all over the world, and the madwoman's husband has developed an uncontrollable urge to accost any and all owners of large flat fields for permission to play on them. 

Jump forward to two weeks ago.  My son, home after a year in another world, applied to and was selected for his fifth international team - pretty neat for a kid who isn't yet 21.  He's been to Australia and South Africa, and this time around is playing for the USPC in England as I type.  His teammates descended on us, well me, last week, - it's the happiest and most content I have seen him in a long time.  I hope polocrosse will be his salvation, as combined driving was mine.  He's talented, cocky and a natural.  He practices very little, and can still pick up a racquet and hang with the best of them.  Outclassed his old man quite some time ago. 

The team is apparently have one of those "growth" experiences, communication is limited and it appears from all reports they have been handed horses that are of far less quality, while the other teams in this competition are playing their own mounts, with no provisio for switch rides or rotation of horse pools as is commonly done in international test matches.  The games have been heartbreakingly close, with the US team coming up short each time.  I wish I could say my experience with USPC this time around has been a good one - but I find my self disappointed in the lack of support, thought and oversight that has been put into this trip.  I expect that this experience will be fodder in the long run for great tales, fetes of accomplishment that will grow larger the farther away from the week at hand we get.  It's been hard to sit by and not say or do anything, and to let my son be his own advocate.  If you know me, you'd be surprised at just how quiet I have been about the whole thing.  What I have seen is my son step up and become a leader, whether on a conference call or on the playing field.  No matter what the outcome of this week, I am very proud to claim him as the madwoman's son. 

I head to USPC Championships shortly, in what will most likely be my swan song with that organization.  I love organizing, fancy myself to be good at it,and I am looking foward to running polocrosse championships one last time.  Dilemma as well - I plan on speaking to the powers that be about issues, hate people that complain without offering to be part of the solution, and yet I don't want to be part of the solution.  I am sure a path will present itself to me, and in the meantime I think it is time for a nap.


  1. Have fun in kentucky. I played polocrosse for my last championships in 07. My mom will be there and she is in charge of parking. Good luck to your sons team!

  2. Polocrosse is so much fun! I was lucky to play for a short while on an A-grade pony. I think my mounted games background helped me feel at home playing it right away. I would love to play again. Good on your son, and good luck with your constructive bowing out - it can be hard.

  3. Hello! Our Pony club is just venturing into this new territory- our first Polocrosse mounted meeting was last Sunday, the kids really had a blast with it, and I am considering learning to be a referee. Have you any words of wisdom you might care to share...?

  4. Run away. Quickly!!

    Where are you located? It's a great sport and you will find lots of pratical applications of things kids get taught in the ring. Really. Get a good clinician and host a few clinics - let the parents who ride get involved as well. An excellent opportunity for some family time.