A Day at the Polo
Last weekend I made my way out the England vs South Island polo match round behind Wigram. I'm not actually a 'horsey' person as a rule, although I did once feed one some grass, so that's close enough.
This is the second time I've been to the polo, and I'd have to say I'm firmly of the opinion that it's a minority sport that the general public really should see more of. The level of skill and talent on display at Wigram was amazing to a lay person like me, and combined with some nice weather and interesting people has almost made me a convert.
I spent a fair portion of the afternoon at one end of the paddock, avoiding being run over by ponies and their riders, which is another major attraction for me to polo as a voyeuristic pastime. It appears that the unmanageable regulation and silliness that wreaks havoc on so many of our pursuits these days has passed polo by with a quiet wink of one eye, and a doff of a riding hat.
It's certainly not the most dangerous of pursuits, but there is great potential for being on the receiving end of a hard plastic ball in a less than convenient way, or being run over by one of he 10 horses galloping around the paddock. Safety for the spectators is by means of distancing themselves sufficiently from the 'boards' either side of the field. The board is maybe a foot high, and about 10 feet seems to adequate separation in most polo fans language.
Not too surprisingly the 10 foot gap is in fact treated as an extension of the paddock at times, and added excitement for the punters arrives in the form of horses close enough to share your champaign and strawberries with.
Added to the fine weather and dodging horses, I met an interesting chap by the name of Peter Henderson who like me was dodging ponies at the end of the paddock while trying to take their photo. Peter comes from England and shoots for a company called Centaur Photographic, who specialise in polo coverage.
Peter was covering the game for an English polo mag, and passed on some useful tips about gee-gee snapping, and I'm always interested to talk to freelance or niche market photographers who are making a go of it. Peter spends the summer months in New Zealand covering polo for the mag and clubs, which is a fairly idyllic sort of arrangement if you consider the reputation of English weather at this time of year, and that he has an obvious passion for the game.
If you've wound up at this article looking for photos from the event, there are a few in my events gallery, but I believe that Lucy Gardner http://www.lucygardner.com/ was the official shutterbug for the day, and Peter Henderson may have some as well http://www.centaurphotographic.com/.
This post was restored from the Wayback Machine and better images added from my own archives. I originally posted it to my old photography site which is no longer online.