Life on a Horseback

Rina Shah is one of the few female polo players in the country

rina-shah Rina Shah

Galloping on a horse is fun. Add to that mallets flying and a ball whizzing by your head at 100 miles per hour… that’s where the fun stops and the game takes over. Rina Shah is one of the few women polo professionals in India. Seeing a polo match in December 2009 goaded the accessory designer to take up riding. After training in Argentina, Santa Barbara and UK, Rina took up the sport professionally in 2010. Today she also owns a polo team – Rinaldi. “I have jumped out of a plane, surfed, played squash and have raced cars, but never have I experienced something like this

The adrenaline rush of controlling a 500-kilo animal while also hitting the ball at high speed is just too addictive. Once you have tasted it, you will keep going back.”

Apart from being fast, expensive and addictive, polo is also a dangerous game. Imagine a pack of six or eight fearless riders doggedly spurring their fast, agile horses with ferocious gallops inside a ring while chasing a bouncing ball with a mallet. Rina has fallen off the horse a few times. Fractures, broken legs and stitches only make the game more exciting for the 42-year old who started to play only at 38. “Polo is a tough sport generally played by people in the 18-25 age bracket. When I started I wanted to inspire a lot of girls who feel that Polo is a man’s game.”

Apart from the physical aspect of the game polo is also about the connect with your horse, believes Rina. “You get better with your game when you improve your rapport with your horse. You have to know them inside and out – their likes, dislikes, responses etc. My three horses Moscow, Bella and Rock & Roll are my babies.” 

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