Short Story Preview: Golf on Horseback – Malcolm Allen
Apart from golf, polo is the only game that I know of that has a workable handicap system. I’m referring to polo played with a stick, a ball and a pony and not to that exhausting, mostly under-water affair played mainly by Eastern Europeans. It is also a game where ladies can compete on equal terms with men although the horse does help
a bit. It is well worth watching though and is very skilful.
Just down the road from our barracks in Kenya in the 1960s was the Kenyatta Polo Club which, to be truthful, had seen better times. The owner had two charming but muscular daughters, both of whom were rumoured to be capable of hitting a ‘backhander under the dock,’ the dock being the technical term for the bony stump left after a horse’s tail has been cropped. In the polo world, apparently, such a stroke requires great horsemanship and considerable strength, and believe me they had both in abundance. We officers who could ride a little were always welcome to exercise the ponies and try our luck at the game, and it cost us nothing. It was also a good way for Mum and Dad, I imagine, to put
their girls in the shop window, or am I being unkind?
I enjoyed the sport and even considered getting a pony of my own. On the grapevine I heard that a Kenya Regiment officer in Lanet, a small outpost near Nakuru, was selling one so I gave him a call and went to have a look at it. It seemed to be a very handy pony as it was trotted around by a smart African syce, or groom as we know it, but when haggling over the price I asked the owner some questions on feeding and veterinary costs and the salary of a groom.