Catch the polo bug in the Garden of Ireland

IRELAND’S only all-weather centre in the Garden of Ireland in County Wicklow is offering polo lessons for anyone from the basic beginner to players who would like to tune up their skills.

Open six days a week from Tuesday to Saturday, lessons at Polo Wicklow near Wicklow Town are offered privately or to groups and include a talk by Polo Manager Siobhan Herbst in the stunning clubhouse overlooking Ireland’s only all-weather arena, a tour of the stables and tack rooms where up to 90 ponies are housed and training from the ground up to the back of a polo pony.

Known in Ireland as ‘Hurling on Horseback’, it isn’t as difficult as it would seem to soon be playing like a pro and catch the polo bug.

14 beginners teamed up at Polo Wicklow with Blondie Horan, kneeling centre left, and Polo Wicklow Manager Siobhan Herbst

“You literally sit like a sack of potatoes and get on with it, very easy and lazy riding,” said Siobhan Herbst when she spoke with at a recent polo taster. “We are one of the original polo arenas and there is a couple in England that have been built on the model we have, slightly bigger than your average polo arena.”

And, with up to 90 ponies to choose from, there is at least one new four-legged friend to make among the herd. Along with highly skilled and qualified instructors on site led by Siobhan Herbst, Polo Wicklow is part of Ireland’s ‘Racehorse to Polo Pony’ programme where ex-racehorses are re-trained for a new lease of life in polo.

Anthony Woods (centre) was one of the first up to learn how to play polo

Potential polo ponies are assessed for temperament and agility before entering the full re-training programme at Polo Wicklow.

Siobhan Herbst explained: “We take ex-racehorses off the track and retrain them. There is no sitting up and trying to get the horse into position and we provide polo lessons for complete beginners to players who want to brush off a few cobwebs.”

Polo lessons at Polo Wicklow are from the ground up, including a foot polo match with hand sticks

While much of the necessary gear including helmets is supplied, the Polo Wicklow Shop will provide all that is needed for catching the polo bug. Accommodation while at Polo Wicklow is available either near the Centre or in nearby Wicklow Town.

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