Polo Match - carnoldphoto

My initial thought about Polo was this is a sport for the wealthy.  A sport in which I am not privileged too.  A sport in which if I attended all eyes would be upon me as if I didn't belong.  Its funny how we have these preconceived notions within our lives which prevent us from experiencing so many wonderful events or meeting some interesting people.  Breaking down this notion within myself allowed me to experience something that was truly amazing. 
Several years ago while visiting the King Family vineyard in Crozet Virginia, I gazed upon the vacant polo field and wondered what it would be like to see a real polo match.  Another year or so had past and another visit to the vineyard lead me out onto the field and over to the stables where some of the horses were housed.  While this gave me a closer view of where the action takes place, I still had the desire to see a live match.  As we prepared for a family vacation, I decided this would be the year I'd see a match.  I checked the website, verified the time, calculated how long it would take me to get there, and made my plans known to my family.  If anyone wanted to attend, they were more than welcome, but when the time came, it was a solo journey on a hot Sunday morning.

As I pulled up to the vineyard driving down the gravel road stirring up the dust following the car in front and guided by the attendant standing in the blazing sun.  Driving along, I could see the crowds gathering on the patio of the vineyard.  Slowly, I made my way past the vineyard and could see the tents lined along the field in preparation for the days events.  Hoping to get a parking spot nearby proved to be a challenged.  Making my way beyond the field towards the fork in the road, I ventured to the left parking it what was reserved for the teams and players.  Noticing two gentlemen standing by their truck talking,  I pulled up next to them, got out of the truck and struck up conversation.  Dave, whom is pictured below standing by the tree, and his brother Ken, truly set the tone for my day.  They gave me insights on what to look for, gave me a quick lay of the land, and explain the basics of the game.  I then made my way into the staging area where I met more wonderful people.

No matter where I ventured around the field,  the people were friendly and shared a sense of closeness to the sport.  Yet many of them, like myself were virgins to this game and looked upon it with awe as they tried to truly understand what was taking place.  

The heat was intense, so much so, play was reduced from the normal seven minute chukka (period) to five minutes, with both riders and horses swapping out every other chukka.   

Spending the day out on the polo field definitely a life lesson for me.  It taught to break down my own personal barriers and learn to be open to new experiences.  That openness allowed me to be receptive to people I would have never otherwise encountered.  It enabled me to hone my skills as a photographer, meet other photographers who were capturing the event, and it even became a teaching moment for a young photographer who replicated a shot she had seen me take (though from a different angle I might add).  As the day rolled on and I made my way up to the patio, I met and conversed with other wonderful souls who were enjoying the day.  Overall I ended the day on a high for no longer was this a dream deferred, but an experience lived and shared.  

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