Other than for the Winnipeg shopping centre that was once, and still bears the name of Polo Park, I have never been on Polo Grounds. And I knew nothing about how a Polo match was played other than they carried long funny sticks, rode horses while trying to hit a small ball with their unique looking sticks.
But here in Palm Springs, Polo is a big thing with at least two major Polo playing grounds back to back with each other.
These are huge properties in the city of Coachella bordering on the edge of Indio where we are staying.
Every Sunday matches take place at both Polo grounds nearby, Empire and Eldorado.
The back to back grounds are so huge in fact that the now world famous Couchella Music Festival all takes place on these two massive properties.
Local residents and guests to the area are encouraged to come and enjoy a Sunday afternoon polo match, with a low entry fee of only $10.
We were invited to attend by a good my wife’s daughter’s friend from Winnipeg. Megan Kozminski lives here during the winter and knows people at Eldorado Polo grounds.
We watched the game from a table in the front row of the clubhouse, which afforded us a perfect view. The reality is that no matter from where you watch, this is an expansive game that is easy to follow from anywhere in the viewing areas.
Easy to follow even if you don’t understand the game, but with Megan’s input on a few simple rules we kind of had the idea of the scoring, the change in sides after each score, and the basic rules i.e. it’s definitely not nice to use your horse in a manner that could hurt another player or the horse. And these people are really protective of their horses.
They are like their children and as they should be because they are such beautiful well groomed animals.
I found the sport very exciting once I got into it, and the skill of the riders becomes very evident as they race back and forth across the turf.
There are two games featured every Sunday afternoon, one at noon and the other at 2 PM. The 2 PM featured what appeared to be more experienced players, and this really made watching more exciting.
One of the unique elements of Polo not found in any other sport I know of is the fact the audience are invited to become participants between matches. Divots are created often when the ball is being struck in much the same way as a golfer takes divots with a swing.
The audience in mass move out to the field to replace and stamp down the divots before the next match.
Luckily we were with Megan and had the opportunity others may not have in going back into the barns area where the horses are kept.
We feed the horses, watched them being groomed and really got a feel for the foundation and behind the scenes action of Polo.
For a fun video of my wife trying to feed one of the horses watch this.