The start of the 2012 polo season took place on the final weekend of April with our now annual polo training camp at Leadenham in Lincolnshire. The 8 places were quickly snapped up and despite the foreboding weather forecast the group rendezvoused for a swift tipple in the George Hotel on the Friday night. After a restful night in Leadenham House the good news was that the national drought issue was being addressed with a relentless torrent of rain sweeping in from the North Sea. While the weather forced a move to a nearby pitch in RAF Cranwell it did not daunt the assembled players from mounting up and shaking off the winter cob webs and settling back into the saddle. It wasn’t long before the riders warmed up and began to put each other through their paces with passing and supporting.
The morning saw a stick and ball session for all riders to focus on their riding technique and balance. After a lunch at Leadenham House the group returned to have some instructional chukkas under the watchful eye of Miles Underwood the polo manager at Leadenham. It was reassuring to see LCpl O’Riordan return to his former standard of play by dismounting with panache and performing a text book “tuck and roll” – a big improvement on his pile driver technique at the 105 Invitational in 2010. Sgt Johnson returned to form with a vocal performance that drowned out the wind and rain at times and left Julian Bowman wondering if he was perhaps back in uniform and transported to a recruits course with a barking platoon sergeant.
LSgt Grant also made some progress realising that he was no longer in Colombia and was in fact back in the UK…baby steps I suppose. In the midst of all this our one member with no military background took it all in her stride as Astrid focused on subduing a bucking bronco.
The group returned gratefully to the warmth of Leadenham House for the post-training debrief and beers. The Saturday night allowed the group to discuss the day’s progress over a wonderful candlelit dinner in the Dining Room.
More in hope than expectation Sunday arrived to see the rain intensify and following a quick inspection of the pitch the group decided it was best to apply the approach that “discretion is the better part of valour” and that the group should call the weekend to a close. Despite the weather the weekend proved useful to shake off the winter for those who had not ridden, and the odd stiff walk was observed en route to the cars for the rain-lashed trip back to London. The following weekend sees the Team return to RAF Cranwell for the first competition of the season.