Eliott Avis and Zac Vines from Victoria practice at Morgan Park.
Eliott Avis and Zac Vines from Victoria practice at Morgan Park. Georja Ryan

Skilling up as the game mounts

COME Monday, smiles will be wiped and serious faces engaged as the Barastoc Polocrosse Nationals kicks off, but for now, laughter can still be heard around Morgan Park as teams practice.

Yesterday marked the first official practice day and each state was allocated a few hours to use the practice fields as they pleased.

Dean Baker, stepfather of Zac Vines who is riding in the under 16s open juniors, said these practice days were essential to horse and rider.

"It's a chance to hone their skills and the horses need to be kept at optimum fitness," Mr Baker said. "The coaches take over what the team needs and the horse owners determine what their horse needs."

Mr Baker said the competition would pick up as of Monday, when things got down to business.

"You'll probably see people hiding in their cars watching other teams, trying to suss things out," Mr Baker said.

For a sport that combines so many elements of equestrian, Mr Baker said it often did not get the recognition it warranted.

"No one really knows about polocrosse in the big wide world," he said.

"It incorporates dressage, camp drafting, rodeo, cutting and reining, western training - you have to train the horse to become your set of legs."



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