By Vicky Fenner
“I know Helena Schoeller of the La Tarde team very well as we played at the same polo club in Munich/Ammersee. She always told me a great deal about this fantastic club and infected me with her enthusiasm for the place. The polo programme “As much polo as you can take” really appealed to me. Now that I am here I can only say: it is even better than I imagined. My polo has improved significantly and I have made a great deal of new friends. This is my first visit to La Tarde, but it will certainly not be my last that’s for sure. I will definitely come back.
La Tarde distinguishes itself thanks to the fact that you can immediately put what you have learnt in to practice. The three coaches constantly look after guests personally and give you helpful hints and tips. This helps a lot to improve your playing style. In addition I can practise whenever I want to. For example, if I want to work on my nearside, I always have the opportunity to practise with one of the pros. It is also fantastic that each guest is supported individually, yet in the afternoons everyone plays together. We all learn and improve our polo together.
Before I arrived at La Tarde I had to fill in a form, which asked me to analyse myself: how I ride, how long I have played polo for and how well I play. During the first stick & ball session one of the coaches concentrated solely on me and examined the way I play polo. Afterwards we sat down and we discussed his first impressions and what he had observed. During the chukkas in the afternoon I was once again watched closely. After which we spoke in depth about my strengths, how to build on them and how I could best work on my weaknesses. I have been here for 3 weeks now and can definitely say that my playing style has improved significantly.
When I arrived here Juan Martin Sarli, owner of the club and pro, picked me up from the airport. This was really great as we could already get to know each other during the drive back to the club. My first impression of La Tarde was fantastic. The whole family was there to welcome me. Everyone was really friendly and I was given a guided tour of the whole club. The landscape and the club are truly beautiful, with three polo pitches and as many horses as you could wish for.
The club has a very friendly atmosphere. The Sarli family really makes you feel like you are a part of the family. The hosts are always accommodating and make you feel instantly at home. Guests also get an impression of the Argentinean lifestyle. In the evening everyone has supper in the clubhouse or there is an asado outside. The evenings are always entertaining. After supper we sometimes go to the local bar in Mercedes (the closest city to La Tarde Polo Club, only ten minutes drive away). We also sometimes eat at a traditional pizzeria in Mercedes, where you can meet many Gauchos and Argentineans.
I really like the training programme at La Tarde Polo Club. Over the past few weeks I have made a great deal of progress. The coaches work professionally, are very friendly and funny and are always up for a laugh. They also help to bring out the best in you. I can ask questions anytime and know that they always have an eye on me. The combination of individual training in the morning stick & ball sessions and playing chukkas together in the afternoon is perfect. I can play as much polo as I want to – which is something that is not offered at every club. The slogan “As much polo as you can take” is absolutely true! In the morning I stick and ball two horses for two hours. If I still feel fit enough afterwards I can leap onto the wooden horse and work on my hitting technique with one of the coaches. However, most guests are pretty tired after two hours of stick & ball. In the afternoon we play four to six chukkas. After a day of polo at La Tarde everyone goes to bed very tired and happy.
Throughout the training we are filmed by the club using cameras, GoPros and drones. After chukkas we sit together and analyse our playing style. This is not only great fun, but also really helps you to improve. This allows me to see the way I hit the ball, my positioning in the saddle and helps me to read the game better. The shots taken with the drone are not only super cool; they also give a perfect overview of the pitch. Every weekend we play tournaments with the Argentinean club members. The tournaments are played at a higher level than the club chukkas – providing a good opportunity to improve even further. The increase in pressure of the tournament atmosphere also helps you to understand the game even more and to refine your polo. The tournaments are a lot of fun and a great experience.
Juan Martin Sarli finds it very important that each guest improves his or her polo and feels comfortable in the saddle. For this reason Juan Martin and the other pros take a lot of time to choose the right horse for each guest, so that horse and rider fit together perfectly. If you do not get on with a horse, you will be changed on to another one immediately. The club always pays attention so as not to overwhelm a rider. At the moment I am playing two horses, which I absolutely love and would like to take home with me.
La Tarde also has a breeding programme for polo ponies, which I find very exciting. It is great to see fantastic new polo ponies being born each week. Many of the guests are very interested in the programme. All the horses born this season have already been bought by guests. Yesterday I spent an hour in the field taking great photos of the new-born foals. For me as a horse lover, it is always very special to see new foals being born and to see how they are then later trained.
In addition to the polo training programme, the club also offers excursions to the surrounding countryside. This week we drove to Pilar to visit the polo pitches at Ellerstina. Afterwards we went to one of the greatest polo stick shops I have ever seen. There we were shown how a stick is made and the many different types available. I immediately ordered myself three new polo sticks, which are perfect for me. A sightseeing trip to Buenos Aires is planned for the weekend with a dinner in one of the stylish restaurants there.
I have been delighted with my stay here at La Tarde and will be recommending the club to all of my friends. You should definitely pay La Tarde a visit. The extensive polo programme is fantastic and the atmosphere is great. I really feel like a part of the family. Throughout my time here I have made some great friends. La Tarde is an incredible place for everyone passionate about the sport of polo.”
A typical day at La Tarde:
“In the morning we have a delicious breakfast in the clubhouse. We then have a stick & ball session for two hours with three professional polo coaches. At 1pm we meet for a lunch of typical Argentinean food. After which most of my time is spent relaxing by the pool or enjoying the beautiful Argentinean landscape. Around 4pm we all gather again at the stables, where our horses await us fully tacked up and ready to play. Argentinean club members often join us for club chukkas and we all play together. We almost always play four to six chukkas, which are great fun. I really feel like I improve a little more each day. After chukkas we usually drink mate in the stables. A sundowner follows this on the terrace of the clubhouse, where we enjoy a fantastic view of the sunset. In the evening everyone meets again at the bar. Then we either have an asado outside or a dinner in the clubhouse.
I live in one of the twelve cottages. My room is about 40 square meters in size, with wireless internet access, a TV and an ensuite bathroom. I really like relaxing by the pool reading a book or simply just lying in the sun. I haven’t tried the gym out yet, as after so much polo I am always pretty tired. However many guests use the sauna to relax their muscles or have massages after a long day spent in the saddle.”
About La Tarde Polo Club
The La Tarde Polo Club is located about one hour from Buenos Aires and 30 minutes from Pilar. The estate covers 180 hectares and includes three first class polo fields, 120 polo ponies, 60 horseboxes and two Sticking Cages. In addition the club offers its guests a luxury clubhouse, 12 private cottages, two swimming pools, sauna, gym and spa as well as a bar and a gift shop.
Originally the Sarli family comes from Buenos Aires, where they ran several super markets and travel agencies. Even back then Alfredo, passionate about polo and horses, bred polo ponies and searched for a place to train them. Then he found the former cattle ranch including a restaurant at the gates of Buenos Aires and in 1991 decided to use this place to build the La Tarde Polo Club. Ten years ago his son Juan Martin extended the club to a holiday accommodation – being the first one to offer polo holidays for tourists in the region of Buenos Aires.
The name “La Tarde” in Spanish means sunset and afternoon. The club is called like this because it offers a fantastic view of the sunset. The clubhouse has been built so that the guests can sit there in the evening and enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape and the sunset of Argentina.
For more information please visit www.latardepolo.com