After a year of working hard and in need of some sun, He and I decided to take time off and go away, in search of sun, sea and… stables?! We ended up picking a polo holiday, as it’s something I now enjoyed doing too (keeping true to my word, I had invested in some lessons, and He thought that a week of playing every day would bring my game on). Plus, He had always been envious of friends and family who had played abroad, and so He wanted to go now he finally had the chance to.
We chose a beautiful club on the continent, where we could play in the sun and relax with the horses afterwards in a beautiful setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Club chukkas happened three times per week and it would be a wonderful chance to play with the locals. I was so excited — it was my first ever horsey holiday, something I had dreamt of as a girl.
However, as the day to set off came, it was evident things weren’t going to go as planned. Our flight was a painfully early one, and He had been unusually quiet in the car there. He had been working incredibly intense, long days on the run up to the holiday, and I think it had finally taken its toll. He said he felt a bit “tired and under the weather”, and offered to watch the bags while I looked around the duty-free shops, trying to distract myself from my apprehensions about flying.
Once we boarded the flight, He soon become restless, clammy and uncomfortable. I got more alarmed as He hastily grabbed the paper bags from the seats of our entire row, but at this point He was still claiming to be “fine”…
…before proceeding to throw-up on taxi, take-off AND landing, among other times on our short flight, and we became rather unpopular with the other passengers on the row. My previous fears of flying had been swiftly forgotten as I was too busy frantically whispering to him could He “throw up more quietly”, and “please make sure that He doesn’t cause a fuss”. (Looking back this maybe wasn’t the most sympathetic approach but I think He was feeling too green to complain).
The weather when we landed was delightfully hot and the host was there to meet us at the airport. We chatted in the front of the car while He lay, still very green, across the back seats (to be fair to Him, he wasn’t making a fuss or moaning and groaning at all). Our poor host had to stop on the long track to the farm while He vomited yet again. He then crashed out at our accommodation (a gorgeous log cabin in the trees, looking out on the plush green pitch), and I went to explore and meet all the ponies.
Later, our hosts invited us to play in the club chukkas, so I went to check on Him. The call of polo was too strong, and He decided that yes, he would quite like to join in with chukkas, and was soon tacking up and heading to the field.
Still trying to master the art of polo (that is, travelling at speed, swinging a long mallet in the right direction, actually making contact with ball AND ensuring said ball travels along a vaguely helpful trajectory, without doing injury to yourself, any players or most importantly, any ponies) meant that I was too busy to notice His relative absence from the game. Usually, He would have been up front scoring goals and hassling the opposition.
Instead, He had turned from green to a worryingly washed-out grey, and the instructor sent Him off after the first chukka as he didn’t want to risk Him being a health hazard (to himself or the other players).
I carried on playing for the afternoon, and helped strip down the horses as well as skipping out and feeding them. It was lovely doing evening stables in the heat and a perfect finish to a wonderful day. As I popped into the cabin to check on him and make a start on supper, I found him passed out cold. I had an inkling then that He wouldn’t be up to help me get the ponies out at 6am!
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I’m pleased to say that after some R&R and and pure country air He soon recovered and was able to make the most of our time away. And, I knew He was ready to help with the mucking out again when he mercilessly tackled me in front of the goal during chukkas a few days later, denying me my first goal of the holiday!
One surprising benefit was that He felt so guilty about “sacking off” for those first couple of days that my doing one evening stables in the gorgeous balmy heat somehow turned into numerous nights of Him offering to muck out solo back in England, often in the freezing rain — a bit of a win-win for me!