Title: Seven and a Half Minutes
Author: Roxana Valea
Pub. Date: June 2, 2020
Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third installment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events.
Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love?
Context: Polo player Roxy gets back into the saddle after a long break and discovers again all the subtle moves that make a hit perfect.
Then spring arrived, and just like the Old Man predicted, I felt ready to play again.
And one morning I got back on a horse, my stomach bubbling with excitement, my heart pounding with fear, the familiar smell of leather and horse sweat in my nose, and my body rocking to the rhythm of the horse’s hooves. First walk, then trot, then canter. I picked up speed quickly, and soon I found myself in a flat gallop across the polo field.
“Let go!” The voice of my coach flashes though my mind, and I relax my wrist and give the mare rein. Too much control gets in the way of a horse that runs flat out; I learned that long ago. I trust that she will go, and she trusts that I will guide her. She is relaxed; I can feel her long, powerful body stretching under me with every stride. But, at the same time, she is tense too, as one is when running at full speed. I feel good in the saddle, my body moving along to replicate her moves. And yet I feel the panic as well. That inexplicable blend of panic and excitement that fuels the adrenaline rush.
I lift slightly from the saddle so she can breathe easier, tilt my upper body a little bit forward, and move my feet back to keep my balance. I arch my back, straighten my shoulders, and now my heart opens fully and beams forward, connected to the world, to the wind, and to the horse beneath me. From that place in between two worlds, not really seated and not really raised up in the saddle either, I feel the weightless shape of my own body and the powerful energy of the animal beneath me. For a moment, I worry about losing this subtle balance, and I wonder how much it will hurt this time if I fall again. I let the thought come, and then I let it go, and the memory of the fall and of the pain goes away with it. I am back where I belong: once again flying on the back of a horse.
I guide my horse towards the ball simply by looking at it. It feels like magic, but one of my coaches once explained to me that by looking at the ball, I tilt my head slightly in that direction, which changes the weight on the back of the horse, and this is how she knows where to go. I don’t care if it’s true or not; I just know that I am so connected to this animal that she goes flat out wherever I look, as if she is reading my thoughts.
“Push with your knee into the saddle!” he shouts from somewhere behind me, and then the last piece of the puzzle finally falls into place.
My body lines up from my left heel to my knee, pushed into the saddle, then up through my twisted hip straight across my abdomen and further up into my right arm, which now opens up in a familiar pendulum-swing pose. I hear the familiar click sound of a ball well hit, and I know, even before I lift my eyes from where they have been locked, straight above the ball. I already know it’s been a good hit, and it will go far.
“Buena!” shouts Patricio from his horse. A good one.
After nine months out of the saddle, I am finally hitting a good shot again.
About the Author
Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.
As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate Word is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.
Roxana lives with her husband between England and Spain, and splits her time between writing, coaching and therapy work, but her first passion remains writing.
♡, Yna the Mood Reader