By Narda Sherman, March 14, 2017
I think I may have just had one of the best days of my life. Awoke here in Estancia los Potreros, after a fine dinner and good company last night, to a sunny warm day. Wandered over to the group of young horses, mares, yearlings, 6 month and 2 month old foals waiting to be let out to the larger fields. There I was love-bombed by the 6 month and 1 year old horses; they nibbled on my shoes, hair, and one rested his velvet muzzle on my shoulder. They followed me about, pushing and insisting on pets. Eventually the 2 month olds let me ever-so-cautiously touch their downy faces.
Back to breakfast on the hacienda porch – coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, cereals and to-order eggs. Toast came with local jams and, of course, dulce de leche si tu quieres. The three of us polo wannabes changed into our white breeches per instruction, saddled up and, extra horse in tow each, rode off to the newly mown polo field 20 minutes’ ride away.
Our Argentine polo coach awaited us. She has been playing polo for over 20 years and is a 4 goal player, the first woman in all of Cordoba!!! She grew up playing with boys and, I’m told, can swear like a sailor when the games get intense. All we saw was a charming, friendly and engaging instructor who assumed we would love the game as much as she and so, after some basic but very helpful instruction, COWGIRLS UP and we were on the field! Stick and ball at a walk and trot and, 20 minutes later, “now hit the balls at a slow canter! It’s easier” And so we did. Two Swedish woman who are experienced riders and twins and I are the guests, so the teams were completed with the coach and staff from the Estancia. Soon we were playing chukkas, slow at first with lots of ball line fouls, but in time at all we were focused on the ball and running like hell.
Our horses knew how to play but were kind and pretended to wait for our instructions. Our coach yelled encouragement, ran ahead, hung back and gave us tips between gallops. We were fast and focused and thrilled and not very good, but having the best time of our lives. Novices, we learned to respect the line of the ball, to never ever let our horses stop and to forget about missed balls. If we were close enough to hit the ball, we were good. Missing happens. Unacceptable is to be off on our own and to not follow our Captain’s shouted instructions. Final score 2-2. Panting and sweaty, we finished, thrilled to know we would be back tomorrow.
We rode back to the Estancia, arriving by 1:30 to another breezy outdoors lunch, then coffee and and hour or so of resting, chatting and, for we polo players lot of stretching on the lawn, hanging out with a pack of Estancia dogs and each other. Tea at 5:00 and back in the saddle at 5:30.
This time we were on gaited Peruano Paso horses. 90 minutes with our gaucho guide, who took us through grassy fields and hills with no roads or towns or any signs of humans – all part of the 6000 acre ranch. We ran! And yelped with happiness. A fellow guest from the UK was so happy and thrilled with the unexpectedly smooth gaits that she started giggling with joy – contagious so we all started laughing. And there were some tears – being overwhelmed with beauty and happiness and profound gratefulness for being here now in all of this.
After quick showers, sore and sunned, we all met in the kitchen where the two chefs taught us to make empanadas, ravioli and quick breads, accompanied by some very fine wines. We ate in the big wooden table in the kitchen this time and chatted away, telling stories and enjoying our varied company until 11:00. Then off to bed, all relaxed and exhausted and happy, delighted to know we would have more in the morning.