Maybe you are familiar with it from the iconic logo of the Ralph Lauren clothing line, or perhaps you have seen pictures of Prince William and Prince Harry playing the sport. Polo. It’s a sport most people know very little about.
But sophomore Ginny, a polo player at the Dallas Polo Club, has more of a personal relationship with the sport. Ginny became involved in polo when her uncle, Finn Stubbs, who played in high school and recently began playing again a few years ago, introduced her to the game.
“He knew that I rode, so he brought me out there one weekend, and I just really loved it,” she says.
Although she has ridden horses since she was a toddler, Ginny has played polo on and off for about 4 years. This year, however, she is starting to take the sport more seriously and getting more involved.
“I started keeping up with it this year and buying my own equipment. I want to continue it in college,” Ginny says.
She currently plays with Stubbs, Polo Club owner Bill Walton and a few guys who are just out of college. Walton’s daughter, Madeline, a junior at Episcopal School of Dallas, and son, Will, usually play as well.
Since she is relatively new to the sport, Ginny says “it’s really fun when I make a play because I’m still considered the new member of the team.”
Ginny does not want to buy a horse now and have to sell it in two years when she leaves for college, so for now, she just rides other people’s horses. She has been riding for so long that she can easily switch between Western and English riding.
“Every weekend when I was little, I used to go to a friend’s ranch,” Ginny says. “We’d ride together and do rodeos. Then I also did English riding at Merriwood, [a stable in Plano].”
According to Ginny, polo provides almost a mix of both styles of riding—the speed and thrill of Western and the English saddle and riding style.
Ginny says that polo “is kind of like field hockey but your mallet is 53 inches long…and you’re on a horse.”
At the polo club, most of the practices are simply scrimmages against the other members. However, the players also have tournaments, where Ginny says the Club “basically just invites a bunch of people to come watch us do what we usually do.” However, they also play against the polo teams from University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Members also take a trip to a tournament in California once a year.
Ginny hopes to expand the sport to other high school students.
“I went once last year, it was lots of fun learning a new discipline on horse-back. I usually do jumping so it was interesting to learn about this new style of riding. I’m excited to become more involved this summer,” sophomore Grace Howard says.
Stubbs is attempting to start high school leagues in the next few years in schools including Hockaday, St. Mark’s, Cistercian, Jesuit, Episcopal School of Dallas, Highland Park, and a few other private schools in the Dallas area.
Playing against colleges increased Stubb’s enthusiasm to get high school kids involved in Dallas in order to better the Texas college teams.
He has already talked to Jesuit and found “an eagerness to listen and learn about the sport for their kids.” Also, he has mentioned the league with other private high schools in Dallas and has found sincere interest Along with help from Walton, he hopes the schools will be able to start playing within the next two years.
“I’m doing everything I can to introduce the sport to kids and I will support it all,” says Stubbs.
Although there are a lot of rules to the game, she says that all the basics are pretty simple and easy to catch onto. She encourages anyone with riding experience to come out and try it.
Stubbs says that he “loves the sport and thinks it’s a great sport for kids.”
Polo has also provided Ginny with a job for the summer. She is going to work at Stubbs’ barn near Cedar Creek Lake. She will learn to give vaccinations and exercise the horses. The new Polo trainer also works at that barn, and Ginny plans to learn from him and get lessons as they exercise the horses together.
“Polo is perfect for me because it’s so different from any other sport. It’s so much more than just horseback riding and a lot more fun than any other sport I’ve played before,” Ginny says.