I’m a girl who likes to try new things and my favorite way to experience a place is to engage in the culture and what a place is known for. In Argentina, that has meant everything from tango to wine to multi-day trekking, and recently for me it also meant polo. It is said to have originated as a sport in Argentina as early as 1985. I used to ride horses as a little girl so the idea of spending a Sunday watching a competition on horseback with a mountain backdrop seemed ideal. And it was...
We headed out to El Campo de Mendoza early in the afternoon to watch the final day of the tournament, or Torneo de Las Bodegas, held in Maipu. The field was lined with white leather couches and tables where you could lounge while enjoying a refreshing glass of espumante or the signature Argentine cocktail, fernet and coke while taking in the competition.
The horses are gorgeous and so nimble, perhaps taking some lessons from the speedy footwork of Argentine fútbol players as they respond to the rider’s commands. There are four players to each team with different roles to play as they try to use their mallets to hit the ball between posts on the opposing side of the field. There is a lot of speed and agility at play here even just to stay on the horses, or so it appeared to me.
We watched trainers on the sidelines keep “the bench” of horses loose while at the ready to assist a rider who would literally jump from one horse to another to give their current ride a rest. We wandered over to get a closer look at the horses and chat with their breeders who told us that each team travels with their own horses to a tournament and each player uses around 3 horses per match.
The final tournament of the season in Mendoza is this upcoming weekend in Valle de Uco, and you can find more information at www.winepolo.com. The season picks up again in the southern hemisphere fall if you want to plan ahead. It is a wonderful way to take in a past time and follow the sun until it sets while enjoying a regional wine and perhaps a picnic. Cheers to trying new things!
Erin is a freelance writer in Mendoza who is passionate about trying new things and looking for opportunities to explore Mendoza on horseback, maybe even trying her hand at polo herself.