Uitgedacht's polo facilities are unique. The farm has seen extensive investment in polo infrastructure, including one full sized polo field with a second under development, an arena polo field, and a charming wooden horse (in fact mostly made of sandstone from the farm) set under a thatched roof. The arena field, one of a handful in the country, not only offers the excitement of the different game in the smaller enclosed area, it is also useful to tune riding skills as well as to school young ponies. The setting for the A field is one of the most spectacular in the country, at the head of a valley with a bass-filled dam at the southern end and views of mountains to the north. This field was planted in 2004 and is now well established. The field is fully boarded and irrigation was installed in 2010. Uitgedacht is frequently complimented on the quality of this field's playing surface, with visitors remarking that it rivals the best in any country in the world. The B field, situated a little further down the valley from the A field, is still under construction. We expect this field to be playable in the next couple of years. This field will also be an irrigated and boarded field.
Central to life on the farm and Poloafrica's development programme is the polo pony. We have used local materials to build extensive horse care facilities including a charming pony yard and stable complex and an enclosed schooling ring for "linking-up" and working the youngsters. We also have various sand exercise tracks, one positioned on the side of a steep hill for conditioning the playing ponies. All ponies, including the youngsters and the ponies at rest, follow a strict routine. Ponies are divided into herds, according to their care requirements. Pony care is demanding, with the playing ponies and the young ponies just entering the game requiring a well-planned exercise and schooling regime. Given our development programme, we maintain a string of ponies suitable for all levels of player. The string is constantly being expanded and there is always a line of young ponies being brought slowly into the game. Some of our ponies are homebred (we have a small breeding herd), the rest we bring from the race track to the farm. We are proud of our reputation for pony care and for our ability to develop good ponies. On average we have about 70 ponies on the farm, of which usually 45 or so are playing ponies or ponies entering the game.
We have an exceptional team who are dedicated to bringing on the ponies and improving the play of the participants in the Trust's sport development programme as well as guests. We have five players amongst the adult workers on the farm, all of whom are used to assisting players of all levels. Three of these are responsible for making the young ponies. Matthew Pohl (2 goals) who comes from one of the leading polo families in South Africa, is a supporter of the Poloafrica Development Trust. He is well known as a coach, player and polo manager and sometimes visits to coach on the farm. Gavin Chaplin (previously 7 goals and a South African Springbok player) visits the farm regularly during the year to give polo and pony schooling tuition. He works hard with the adult Poloafrica players and the top players amongst the children so that they in turn can coach those behind them. Gavin is a horseman and polo coach of international renown and we are proud that he is prepared to devote so much of his time to helping us at Poloafrica.
Your polo day
We offer guests who choose to holiday on Uitgedacht Farm an exhilarating polo experience, whether you are a complete beginner or are looking to improve your skills. Your polo programme will be tailored to suit your requirements and skill levels. A typical day starts with tuition in the morning led by one of our polo coaches. This includes a combination of stick and balling with the ponies, learning polo riding or pony schooling techniques, honing hitting skills on the wooden horse and absorbing the finer points of the game in theory sessions. We also feel that every polo player should be given the opportunity to understand the basics, namely how to tack up a polo pony, the merits and demerits of different bits, how to tie a tail, how to do a bandage. So for those that want it, we offer this tuition too. After a rejuvenating lunch, we put the lessons into practice during chukkas. There are plenty of Poloafrica players with whom to play chukkas and also local players often come and join in our practice sessions. Then it is time to wind down over a drink and look forward to dinner. To broaden the experience we sometimes take guests with Poloafrica players to play practice chukkas at nearby polo clubs.