Le Chameau recently spent a day with the founders and staff of Cowdray Park Polo Academy, based at Madam’s Farm in West Sussex. Courtesy of the farm’s owner and former pro player Alan Kent, the site houses a breeding, coaching and Polo livery yard and is set within the impressive 16,500 acre Cowdray Estate - globally acknowledged as the 'Home of British Polo'. Playing host to our day were charming husband and wife team Guy and Charlotte Verdon who set up the Academy in 2015 and whose passion for polo is infectious. "One of the great pleasures of teaching polo is meeting such a variety of people, all of whom share one passion and enthusiasm for the sport" enthused Charlotte. As we were eager to get a real behind-the-scenes glimpse of a normal working day on the farm it was an early start all round. “We typically start the day at around 6.30am with mucking out and feeding” commented Charlotte “then replenishing haynets, changing the horse’s water and sweeping the yard. The farm is a hive of constant activity with the Polo Academy staff going about their daily activities. Once the mucking out and cleaning duties are complete, it's out on to the exercise track for an hour where two riders will ride and lead 8 or 9 horses. Then back to the yard to groom, sweep, take feed deliveries and hand over to the farrier, after which time they turn some of the ponies out to graze. After a quick bite to eat, the team returned to the farm to bring the ponies into the yard and started to prepare for the afternoon lesson and chukka. "It’s all go!" smiled Charlotte. When asked about their boot of choice, Charlotte needed no prompting “We all wear Le Chameau boots and quite frankly could not do without them! The jersey lining has been utterly perfect to get us through this insanely hot weather and working such long hours has ensured our feet stay comfortable and supported. And of course” Charlotte continued “we all look terribly stylish in them!” Cowdray Park Polo Club has just hosted the world-famous King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, so we were curious to know what the rest of the year brings for the farm team. “It’s back to business as usual” commented Charlotte “our two children – Max (3yrs) and Florence (7yrs) who are now proud owners of their own Le Chameau boots from the Petit Chameau collection – will soon be back to school. There will be an ugly scene as we prize the boots from their feet and the yard tools from their hands as they really love to help! Guy and I will inevitably switch to our trusty neoprene lined boots as the days shorten. I literally live in them... this summer I've run hunter trials, covered miles at Pony Club camp and of course Le Chameau boots are my everyday work footwear. I can't quite face the thought of mud and ice yet, but I know they are ideal when it comes.” With 10 immaculate pitches and an annual fixture list comprising in the region of 450 matches at all handicap levels, Cowdray Park offers exceptional playing opportunities. Beginners are well catered for at the polo club’s Academy and a new Weekend Polo Membership enables players with limited time to enjoy the Cowdray polo experience. Polo is a sport that appeals to a cross section of the population, from equestrian enthusiasts and sportsmen/women to complete beginners of all ages. Charlotte and the team are keen to encourage local schools and colleges to take up the sport, and is proud of their progress, "Windlesham House School have recently taken up the polo challenge and are making rapid progress, whilst Seaford College, for whom we developed a team from scratch two years ago, have already won the National Schools tournament."
Le Chameau in the field: Behind the scenes at the Home of British Polo
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