|7/13/2010 1:15:00 PM|
Riders take a whack at polo
Central Oregon is horse country sure enough, but until recently polo has made few inroads.
|Spectators thrilled to the speed and power of the game. photo by Lynn Woodward|
|Olivia Chandler and Lucas learned the basics of polo in a clinic. photo provided|
That changed last weekend as Camp Fraley Ranch on the east side of Bend hosted the first polo match seen in the region in decades. The Washington All-Stars pulled out a dramatic 8-6 victory over their Oregon opponents before an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred people.
Dan Harrison of Sisters was instrumental in bringing his beloved sport to his home turf - and the event seems to have spurred some interest in young riders.
Part of the weekend's activities was a clinic for riders who want to learn more about polo - from those who have given it a whirl before to people who have never held a mallet.
Wilbur O'Ferrall, field director of the Polo Training Foundation, conducted the clinic.
Participants didn't have to have a horse; they could get a feel for the intricacies of the game by handling a mallet on the ground.
Yvette Chandler, an accomplished rider in the discipline of eventing, stayed on foot for her part of the clinic. Her horse is too tall at 17 hands. Polo ponies are small and compact, allowing them to maneuver quickly and their riders to reach the ball.
"I thought it was great," she said. "I didn't know anything about polo. It's a very complicated game."
Complicated as in it's hard to coordinate mallet and ball even without the added element of trying to control a charging, cutting polo pony.
Yvette's daughter Olivia, 14, trained on horseback on her 14.3-hand horse Lucas.
"It was a lot of fun," Olivia said. "It was a great learning experience."
While the tack is essentially English, the riding style - controlling the horse with the legs and one hand on the reins while the other swings the mallet - is reminiscent of Western disciplines.
"It's about like riding Western and English," she said. "It's kind of a crossover."
Another aspect of the game ran contrary to her training. As an eventer, Olivia is trained to look down the course at her next jump, never at the ground. In polo, of course, the rider has to keep her eye on the ball.
The young Sisters equestrienne will likely find herself on the grass again, though she has no plans to switch her discipline.
"I definitely like it and would like to do it again," she said. "I want to stick to eventing, but I'd definitely do it again."
She'll get her chance. With the success of last weekend's event, planners are already considering more matches at Camp Fraley Ranch.
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