Aiken Polo 2021

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Aiken Polo Club 2021


Aiken Polo Club 2021


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Contents 10 Letter from the President 12 Polo Schedule 14 Accommodations Guide 16 An Introduction to Polo 22 Pastry & Polo 28 New Rules; New Helmets 32 Tournaments 38 Crossing the Line 45 Gear of the Game 50 The Lefties of Polo 58 A Polo Timeline 66 George S. Patton 82 Remembering Seymour Knox 89 Polo Glossary 92 Advertising Index 94 Belle of All: A Horse to Remember 8

Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021 P.O. Box 3021 Aiken, SC 29802 Volume 17. Published annually Editor & Publisher: Pam Gleason Layout & Design: Innovative Solutions Photography by Pam Gleason Unless otherwise noted Special thanks to the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Editorial Inquiries: Aiken Polo Magazine P.O. Box 332 Montmorenci, SC 29839 Advertising Inquiries: Susie Kneece 803-646-3302 On The Cover: Our Cover shows Seymour Knox II before the finals of the U.S. Open in 1934. Seymour Knox played polo in Aiken from the 1920s until the late 1960s and left an indelible impression on the sport in America. Read more about him on page 82. USPA Press Photo courtesy of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Letter from the President Dear Friends of Aiken Polo

We are looking forward to the 139th renewal of polo here at Aiken Polo Club with a sense of gratitude. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year challenging and difficult, and yet our club has survived thanks to the support of our friends in Aiken and in the polo community at large. Thank you all for your help and cooperation, which has enabled us to keep our polo tradition alive. With the arrival of vaccines, we can hope for a return to normalcy in the near future and we hope you will continue to join us and enjoy our sport in the days and months ahead. I would like to extend a special thanks to Bart and Abby Frye and the Virginia Beach Polo Club, which donated our new electronic scoreboard to the club. Bart and Abby have been bringing a Virginia Beach polo team to our tournaments for decades and we are honored that they chose to commemorate the friendship between our two clubs in such a special way. We think that the year 2021 will be an exciting one. We have a full slate of tournaments in the spring and fall season, regularly scheduled practices, a weekly women’s league, and of course our popular and successful youth program. Tiger and Susie Kneece (our manager and marketing director respectively) have worked tirelessly to bring new young players into the sport. Today, many of the young people from their program have become skilled and effective players who make our games and practices fast and exhilarating. It is wonderful to see the next generation stepping up to take the reins, and it certainly gives us hope. Who knows; maybe some of these young players will be the polo stars of the future. Whether you are a player, a longtime fan or a first time spectator, we hope you enjoy your time at the club. On behalf of the board of directors and the membership of Aiken Polo Club, welcome to the field. Sincerely

Charles S. Bostwick, President Aiken Polo Club has been playing on Whitney Field since 1882. Need more information? Visit our website For daily updates call the hotline: 803-643-3611. Find us in Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Spring Schedule Fall Schedule Club opens for practice on March 31

Club opens for practice on September 5

April 13-25

Jake Kneece Memorial 4 Goal

September 12-26

April 23-25

National Youth Tournament Series

September 26-Oct 10 USPA Governors Cup 6 Goal

April 24-May 9 USPA Sportsmanship Cup $2500 prize money, winner take all May 9-16

Aiken Spring Women’s Challenge A Flight 8-12 Goals B Flight 4-8 Goals

May 11-23

USPA Constitution Cup 6 Goal $2500 prize money, winner take all

October 3 -10

October 10 -24

October 24-Nov 7

Alan Corey 4 Goal

Aiken Womens Challenge A Flight 8-12 Goals B Flight 4-8 Goals USPA George S. Patton 6 Goal USPA Players Cup 4 Goal

May 22-June 6 USPA Players Cup 4 Goal • Hotline: 803-643-3611 • Manager Tiger Kneece: 803-646-3301

Justin Pimsner 12

Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021





Aiken is a wonderful place to play. Where to stay? Plan your visit here.

HOTELS DOWNTOWN The Carriage House Inn 139 Laurens St. NW 803-644-5888 Days Inn - Downtown 1204 Richland Ave. Aiken, SC 29801 (803) 649-5524 419 Hayne 419 Hayne Ave Aiken, SC 29801 (803) 761-2980 Hotel Aiken 235 Richland Ave. West 803-648-4265/ Toll Free: 877-817-6690 Rose Hill Estate 221 Greenville St. NW 803-648-1181 The Willcox 100 Colleton Ave. SW 803-648-1898/ Toll Free: 877-648-2200

HOTELS AROUND TOWN America’s Best Value Inn 2577 Whiskey Rd. 803-641-8800 Clarion Hotel 155 Colonial Parkway 803-648-0999 Country Inn & Suites 3270 Whiskey Rd. 803-649-4024 Econo Lodge 3560 Richland Ave. 803-649-3968 Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott 185 Colony Parkway 803-648-7808 Hampton Inn 100 Tamil Drive Whiskey Rd. South 803-648-2525 Hilton Garden Inn 350 East Gate Drive 803-641-4220 14

Aiken Polo Club 2021

Holiday Inn Express & Suites 2897 Whiskey Road 803-508-7700

Howard Johnson’s 1936 Whiskey Rd. South 803-649-5000


Inn at Houndslake 897 Houndslake Dr. (803) 648-9535

208 Abbeville Bed and Breakfast 208 Abbeville Ave. NW (803) 649-3109

Knights Inn 1850 Richland Avenue West 803-648-6821 Quality Inn 3608 Richland Avenue West 803-641-1100 Sleep Inn 1002 Monterey Drive 803-644-9900

Annie’s Inn Bed & Breakfast 3083 Charleston Hwy. Montmorenci, SC 803-649-6836 Banks Hall 1323 Banks Mill Road Aiken, SC 29803 410-924-1790

RENTALS Aiken Luxury Rentals 215 Grace Ave SE 803-648-2804 Arbor House Rental 203B Arbor Terrace 803-292-6968 Cottage Rose Guest House 324A Park Ave SE Aiken SC, 29801 803-645-0324 Stable View 117 Stable Drive Aiken SC, 29801 (484) 356-3173

TownePlace Suites 1008 Monterey Drive (803) 641-7373

Aiken Polo Club 2021


An Introduction to Polo By Pam Gleason

People who have never been to a polo match sometimes imagine that the game is like croquet on horseback. This would be true, if croquet were a fast-moving, physical, exciting game in which the players often found themselves hurtling along at speeds in excess of 30 miles an hour. In truth, polo is nothing like croquet. The players ride galloping horses, and they often must lean off their mounts at top speed in death-defying attempts to strike the ball. The horses run, and the ball flies. The best players can hit it like a major league baseball player hammering a home run. The field, when it is empty, looks immense because it is. At 300 yards long and 160 yards wide, it covers the area of nine football fields. When the players are on it, however, it’s obvious why there is so much playing space – the game occupies every square yard, and the horses and the ball often come off the field, making it seem too small to contain the action.

The Basics At its heart, polo is a simple game. Four mounted players make up a team. These players meet on a manicured grass field, each armed with a wooden-headed mallet that is generally between 51 and 53 inches long. All players are required to hold the mallet in their right hands, even if they are left-handed. They hold the reins and control the horse with their left hands. The first objective of the game is to hit the ball (made of hard plastic and about 3½ inches in diameter) through a set of posts marking a goal 8 yards wide. The ball can go through the posts at any height. Polo is a game where geometry counts, and the parallel lines formed by the goal posts are considered to extend infinitely into space. A goal judge (flagger) on each endline is charged with determining whether a goal has been scored or not. If the ball passes between the posts, he waves his flag over his head for “yes.” If the ball goes outside the posts, or passes over the top of them, he waves his flag by his feet for “no.”

your horse next to your opponent’s and encouraging your horse to push his off course. Finally, you may “bump”, which is riding off with a bang — but it is illegal to bump or ride off at an angle greater than 45 degrees, or to do anything that makes either your horse or your opponent’s horse lose balance, stumble or fall.

The second objective of the game is to prevent members of the opposing team from hitting the ball and scoring. Defensive plays include “hooking” an opponent’s mallet as he or she tries to strike the ball — you can only do this if you are on the same side of your opponent’s horse as the ball, since it would be dangerous (and a foul) to reach, over, under or in front of another rider’s horse. You may also “ride off ”, which you accomplish by placing

In addition to eight players, each game also includes two mounted umpires in striped shirts who ride along with the players to ensure that everyone is adhering to the rules. Any time one of the umpires sees something that looks like a foul, he blows his whistle, which stops the play. If the other umpire saw the same thing and agrees with him, the team that was fouled is awarded a penalty shot. If the other umpire does not think there was a foul,


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Marcos Onetto goes for the hook on Trevor Niznik

the two umpires ride over to the third man, who sits on the sidelines. The third man, otherwise known as the referee, decides whether a foul was committed or not.

The Play

A polo match is divided into four or six periods called “chukkers” or “chukkas.” Each chukker consists of seven and a half minutes of playing time. The timekeeper stops the clock when a player commits a foul, or when someone hits the ball over the endline, but not when a player scores a goal. At seven minutes, the timekeeper sounds a warning bell. Play continues until a goal is scored, or 30 seconds have passed. The final chukker ends at the sevenminute mark unless the score is tied.

The play begins with a line-up at the center of the field. Members of each team line up opposite members of the other team. Then one of the umpires bowls the ball between the two When time is up teams. Each team for each chukker, fights to gain the timekeeper possession and sounds the horn. drive the ball down Then the players to the opposite have four minutes goal. After each to leave the field, goal, the teams change horses and switch directions. come back for the If the red team next chukker. Play is scores on the east continuous in polo, end of the field, which means that then in the next the action starts in play, red will be the second chukker trying to score on at the place where the west end of the it ended in the first. field. Switching After the third directions after chukker in a sixeach goal equalizes chukker match, or field conditions. the second chukker However, it can in a four-chukker be confusing match, there is a to players and Marcos Onetto leads the charge longer half-time spectators alike! break, during which It often happens that a team attempting to score a goal spectators are encouraged to walk out on the field to will hit the ball over the endline instead. When this “stomp the divots.” happens, there is a knock-in: the defending team is given possession of the ball on the endline and has a free hit Most players prefer to have a fresh horse for each chukker. at it. On the other hand, sometimes the team that is As a rule, a horse can play one or two chukkers per defending the goal accidentally hits the ball over the game. This means that a player must have a minimum endline while trying to get it out of danger. When this of three horses to compete in a six chukker match. At happens, the opposing team is given a “safety” which is a higher levels, some players use eight or ten horses in a free shot on goal from 60 yards out. game, jumping off one and onto another mid-chukker. The ball also sometimes goes over the sideboards. When this happens, spectators must resist the urge to toss it back onto the field. It used to be that when the ball went over the boards, the umpire would line both teams up for another throw in. According to the current rules, however, hitting the ball out of bounds is treated like a “from the spot” foul. Now, the team that hit the ball out gives the other team possession and a free hit.

Although they may decide to change horses when the clock is stopped, the umpires do not stop the clock just because one of the players is changing mounts. They also never stop the clock just because a player has dropped or broken his mallet. They may not even stop the clock if a player falls off. As long as that player is not hurt and isn’t in imminent danger of getting run over, the umpires are not required to blow their whistles, and usually don’t. Aiken Polo Club 2021


Fair and Foul Most of the rules in polo come from the concept of the “line-of-the-ball.” The line of the ball is an imaginary line that the ball creates when a player hits it. A simplified explanation of the rules is that a player must not cross this line if there is another player behind him who is “on the line” and therefore has the “right of way.” This sometimes means that a player must take the ball on the left side (near side) of his horse, and sometimes means he must not try to hit it at all. If a player does cross the line or commits another foul such as “high hooking” (hooking another player’s mallet

when it is above the level of his shoulder), the fouled team gets to take a penalty shot. The more serious the foul, the closer this shot will be to the fouling player’s goal. Fouls that occur closer to the goal are more serious than fouls that occur further away from the goal. A minor foul might merit a hit “from the spot.” If the foul is more serious, or is repeated or deemed to be intentional or dangerous, the umpire might move the ball up to mid-field, to the 60-yard, the 40-yard or the 30-yard line. The umpire might also move the ball up if a player on the fouling team complains about the call.

A "crossing" foul is one of the most common fouls in polo. It happens when one player attempts to cross into the right of way of another player, or tries to make a play when he is at right angles to the line of the ball.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

The Makings of a Team The four players on each team wear jerseys bearing a number from 1 to 4. The number refers to the player’s position on the field. The Number 1 is primarily an offensive player, whose job is to run to goal, hoping for a pass from his or her teammates. The Number 2 is also an offensive player, but he must be more aggressive, breaking up the offensive plays of the other team, and continually forcing the attack. The Number 3 is usually the strongest player on the team. His job is to hit long balls, set up his teammates, plan the plays and make them happen. He also must cover the opposing Number 2. The Number 4, or Back, is primarily defensive. He covers the opposing Number 1 and generally “shuts the back door” preventing the other team from scoring. He also must get the ball to his teammates, often by hitting long back shots.

The Life Polo was once the sport of kings, played only by the wealthy leisure classes. Today, although playing polo certainly requires a significant investment of time and money, the people who play have different backgrounds and occupations. People of all ages and abilities can play, and the sport does not really require vast sums of money, although money certainly helps. The range goes all the way from England’s Prince Harry to the local veterinarian, real estate agent, blacksmith or carpenter. Polo players are not all men, either. Women make up the fastest growing segment of the polo playing population. Sometimes women play in special women’s tournaments, such as the Aiken Women’s Challenge, held in Aiken each fall. More usually, women play in tournaments with and against men. Polo is the only contact sport in which men and women regularly play together on an equal basis. Some polo players are professionals, who make their living playing polo, teaching, or training and selling horses. Other players are dedicated amateurs, who spend much of their spare time riding and playing. Still other players are more casual, playing on weekends or occasional weekdays after work. Whatever their level of commitment, all polo players share the special world of polo; a world with its own language, its own worries and preoccupations and its own set of celebrities. They are united by a shared passion for horses, a shared commitment to the sport, and a love for the game, which is like no other game on earth.

Aiken’s polo players are young and old, male and female. Some come from polo families; others are new to the sport. Grace Fleischman, Aiden Meeker, Nick Divalentino.

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021



POLO La Parisienne & La Bourgogne By Pam Gleason


iken is often praised as a small southern city with a cosmopolitan flair. That flair got quite a bit more French in 2020. This was when David Meunier, born in French wine country, brought his polo team, La Bourgogne, to Aiken Polo Club. Not only that, he also opened his bakery and restaurant, La Parisienne, on Chesterfield Street, a short walk from the center of Aiken. La Parisienne serves breakfast and lunch, sells French breads and pastries, brews espresso and imparts an authentic Parisian flavor to everything. “Everything here is as French as if you were in Paris,” he says, explaining that he made the restaurant more or less for himself. “There was nothing like this here. The only roots I keep of my country of origin, of France, is the food, and everywhere I go, I like to have French food. I thought, if it makes money that’s fantastic; if it loses money it’s less to pay in taxes.” La Parisienne opened in the summer of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, not exactly an auspicious time to open a new restaurant anywhere. But despite this, the establishment has been a huge success, earning an immediate following among Aikenites who enjoy its casual atmosphere and European fare. In addition to breads and pastries, patrons can enjoy salads and soups, authentic French sandwiches (Croque Monsieur anyone?), crepes and omelettes. They can even purchase imported biscuits, jams and soft drinks from a mini French grocery. There is indoor and outdoor seating as well as a takeout area. Meunier’s equestrian connection is celebrated everywhere: a large screen television plays polo matches and the walls are decorated with action shots of local polo players and riders, many of them signed. This blends with a distinctly French atmosphere: even the radio plays a French station.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

purchasing the Sarasota Polo Club in Florida where he was playing. “I got bitten by the bug,” he says.

David was born in Burgundy and grew up in Switzerland. As a young person, he started out on a career path to be a professional in the restaurant industry, studying to become a chef when he was just a teenager. But when he hit 18, he felt stifled by the isolation and hard work in the kitchen and craved more excitement and social stimulation. Already a rugby player and an active, athletic young man, he left the restaurant industry and became a professional racecar driver instead, competing as part of the Renault racing team and then running his own team for 10 years. His driving career exposed him to top sponsors and many business contacts and he eventually left racing to become an independent businessman. He started restaurants and invested in real estate, working hard and doing well. In the 1980s, he came to the United States, got married and started a family. Today, he has five children, a large real estate portfolio and a great deal of experience in the restaurant industry. He says that La Parisienne is the 53rd restaurant that he has started. Devoted to his businesses and his family, David did not have much time for recreation for several decades. But in 2017, his children were growing up and starting to leave home, and he once again craved excitement. This is when he decided to get seriously into polo. Back in the early 1990s, he had taken some polo lessons while living in California, so he did have a little polo background, but had not gotten seriously into the sport. Now he did: he was living in Florida, and lessons quickly turned into horse purchases and the establishment of the La Bourgogne team. Although his polo renaissance was hampered by injuries early on, he forged ahead, even considering

In 2019, he came to Aiken, and right away he knew it was a place where he wanted to stay and play. His team had already established a yearly routine: in the winter, they would play in Sarasota; spring and fall they played at The Villages near Ocala; and in the summers they would relocate to the Skaneateles club in upstate New York. Luis Galvan, who is a polo professional based in Aiken but who plays in Sarasota in the winter and New York in the summer, had encouraged him to visit the city. “I came here one day in May, and I really loved it,” he says. “For a French guy who has been away for 31 years, coming here was like going home, going back to France. I liked the oak trees and the way they gather together on South Boundary, and I like the train that goes through town and blows the horn, and I love that sense of history. It felt like a French horse town, like Chantilly.”

With his horses based in Sarasota, commuting back and forth to play in Aiken tournaments was out of the question. But it would make sense to buy property here and plan a longer sojourn. After staying in the city for a month or more at The Willcox (“It’s my second home,”) he bought a house in town and a large farm with a practice polo field in the 302 polo corridor. Today, his equestrian operation is based there, and his La Bourgogne team is getting ready for its second year at Aiken Polo Club. Aiken Polo Club 2021


Meanwhile, David has plans to encourage his children to take up the sport so that they will all be able to play together. Ranging in age from 18 to 25, the Meunier offspring are mostly embarking on their own busy careers, but David is confident that they will join him eventually, especially since they are already riders. They just need to make the transition. One of his strategies was to build a beautiful jumping course on the Aiken farm. “I did that as a lure,” he says. “I put up the jumps so that they will come, and then once they are there I will say, come on, let’s play polo. It has already worked for one of them!” And it has. His daughter Olivia, 20, is currently a student at USC Aiken and has started playing with Tiger Kneece’s Aiken Youth Polo group. Looking to the future, David says he hopes to play in Aiken in the spring and fall, and is considering relocating here full time. He may even start another restaurant


Aiken Polo Club 2021

downtown, one that serves dinner with a Mediterranean influence and reasonable prices. As far as polo goes, he says he loves the sport because it is fast and gives him an adrenalin rush, but also because it is a gentleman’s game . . . and because of the horses. “I have always loved horses,” he says. “They are my friends. I buy horse cookies by the 50-pound bag. Sometimes I will go out to the field in the middle of the night, and it is dark and I can’t see anything. But I will whistle or shake the bucket of treats and I will hear them racing towards me. I love this. I love how affectionate they can be, and the way they smell. “I have friends who think that horses are like a car, and they can just show up and get on,” he continues. “But that is not how it should be. You have to be friends with them. You have to, because they can throw you out!”

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Above: Lucas Arellano; Horacio Onetto swings while Dennys Santana rides off. Below: Pedro Lara with David Meunier in pursuit


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Summer Kneece

Aiken Polo Club 2021


New Rules; New Helmets Polo Strives for Safety By Pam Gleason


f you have been accustomed to recognizing Aiken’s polo players by the color of their helmets, you may be surprised to find that almost everyone on the field has a new one this year. This is because in 2021, the United States Polo Association is finally implementing a rule requiring players at all levels and in all tournaments and club events to wear a helmet that has passed the most stringent and demanding safety standard of any equestrian head gear. This standard was established by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE – generally pronounced “noxy.”) Helmets that pass the latest NOCSAE polo standard must be able to sustain major impacts from any direction, as well as to absorb multiple minor blows without damage. This differentiates polo helmets from helmets used in most other equestrian sports. A helmet certified for showjumping, for instance, can protect the head in one significant fall, and then you are supposed to replace it. A certified polo helmet, on the other hand, must be able to keep working after multiple falls, providing a level of protection similar to that of a football helmet.

As a sport, polo is a late-comer to world of certified helmets. The USPA has been supporting helmet research ever since 1978 when the organization hired Dr. Voight Hodgson of Wayne State University in Detroit to test helmets and establish safety standards for them. Helmets are tested by being fitted with a weighted dummy head and then dropped onto an anvil from various heights and at different angles. Sensors on the dummy head measure how much impact the head sustains, and then a “Severity Index” (SI) is calculated for each area of the helmet. Starting in 1979, Polo Magazine began publishing charts that showed the different SI ratings of commercially available helmets, letting players decide what kind they wanted to wear. Traditional polo helmets in the 20th century were modeled after the pith helmets the British once used to protect their heads from the sun in India. They were canvas-covered cork hats, later supplemented by a thin layer of plastic and with some cloth padding inside. They typically were loosely secured by a chin strap, and provided very little significant protection, even if they stayed on the player’s head in a crash. And yet, for many

“Safety is a current and growing concern in all aspects of life, especially in sports,” said a USPA representative.

Grace Fulton models an approved helmet bearing the NOCSAE seal. 28

Aiken Polo Club 2021

Ginny Southworth

Polo headgear in the 1880s consisted of pillbox hats. APC 125th anniversary reenactment 2007. Jackes Osiris and Warren Scherer in a rideoff. decades, they remained the most popular models on the field, even when relatively safer helmets started hitting the market. As with most equestrian sports, head injuries are the most significant and serious risks to polo players, and are the type of injury most likely to lead to serious disability or death. Because of this, the Safety Committee of the USPA has been debating for decades how to get players to wear safer helmets. The first NOCSAE standard for polo helmets was published in 1990. The standard was revised in 2004, and then again in 2011. Helmets that pass the latest NOCSAE standard need to have a Severity Index below 1200 for all areas – an SI over 1200 would be an impact likely to cause a concussion or other serious brain injury. The USPA resisted requiring helmets to pass any tests for many years, but in September 2008, the organization announced that they were officially adopting the 2004 NOCSAE standard, and that all players would have to wear a certified helmet in any game or practice. At that time, there were only three helmets available that could pass (two made by Bond Street in England and one made by Falcon in Argentina), so the organization announced that the helmet rule would not be implemented until January 2012. Three years seemed like a reasonable amount of time to allow helmet makers to design and manufacture safer models, and to get players to adopt them.

But by the time 2012 rolled around, it was clear that polo was not yet ready for NOCSAE. The few helmets that could pass the test were bigger and heavier than regular helmets, and few players wanted to wear them. The number of polo players is relatively small and the cost associated with designing and testing a polo helmet are quite high, so there was little incentive for helmet makers to invest their time and money in making a NOCSAE compliant helmet. Several companies did devote themselves to trying, and new models came on the market – only to disappear within a few years.

When the USPA took another stab at requiring a NOCSAE helmet in the fall of 2017, there were zero models on the market that could pass their updated test. Once again, the organization kicked the can down the road, announcing that the new rule would be implemented in June 2020, while also offering grants to helmet manufacturers to design and produce compliant helmets. This summer, because of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the helmet rule was delayed again, this time until January 2021. Currently, there are two NOCSAE polo helmets on the market: the

George Patton's helmet from the 1930s was better than a cloth pillbox, but provided little real protection Aiken Polo Club 2021


The latest and greatest: The Casablanca Neu is one of two helmets currently approved by the USPA Casablanca NEU and the Charles Owen Sovereign, with a few more from different manufacturers in the pipeline. The USPA has been in regular communication with both manufacturers and has been reminding members to place their orders early enough to receive them before they play in 2021. “The manufacturers have assured us that they have been selling and manufacturing enough helmets for those players who play at the start of the year,” wrote a representative for the USPA in an email. The current NOCSAE compliant helmets have significant advantages over their predecessors. A main reason for this is that modern high tech materials provide superior impact protection with significantly less bulk and weight. The Casablanca Neu has a carbon fiber outer shell and is lined with expanded polypropylene and D30 Decell, a material originally created for military applications that has a unique ability to resist shock. Although the company says that the helmet is 9% bigger than their standard helmet, it still has a low profile and is actually the lightest helmet they have manufactured. The Charles Owen features a carbon fabric outer shell, which provides extra protection again crushing and is lined with Viconic Sporting, an energy absorbing material that is used in football and lacrosse helmets.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

“Safety is a current and growing concern in all aspects of life, especially in sports,” said a USPA representative in an email. “As information becomes available about the dangers of head trauma, it is important that the association make sure that the members have adequate safety equipment and are educated on the dangers of the sport.” And lest anyone think the USPA is not serious about the new rule, umpires have been instructed to examine every player’s headgear to ensure that it bears the current NOCSAE logo before play starts. Players have been told that if they need to change their helmets during the game, they must show the replacement helmet to the umpire when they go back on the field. Clubs are specifically not allowed to waive the new helmet rule. Furthermore, any team that has any player who competes without a compliant helmet will automatically forfeit the game. So if you are looking out on the field this year and are having trouble recognizing your favorite players, the new helmet rule might be the culprit. Improvements in helmet design and technology will likely follow in the coming years, leading to more comfortable and attractive head gear that will also provide superior protection for players everywhere. Polo players can have outsized egos, but in the end even they will agree that they have only one head, and they need to protect it.

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Josh Escapite goes for goal 32

Aiken Polo Club 2021

USPA Constitution Cup: Winship’s Warriors. Ruben Coscia, Trevor Niznik, Jack Whitman, Reagan & Robyn Leitner playing for Winship Rees. With Charlie Bostwick presenting

USPA Players Cup: Mapogo/Cavalia. Ariel Fletcher, Jack Whitman, Trevor Niznik, Dennys Santana Aiken Polo Club 2021


Corey Cup: Virginia Beach. Abby Frye, Harry Caldwell, Chilo Cordova, Omar Cepeda. With Pat Corey, Bart Frye, Grace Ellis presenting.

USPA Governors Cup. Core Read Estate/Woodrow. Maddie Grant, Andrew Baldwin, Agustin Arellano. Not pictured: Nachi Viana. Peter Christiansen presenting. 34

Aiken Polo Club 2020

Aiken Women’s Challenge A: MidState Roofing. Jewel Gregoncza, Robyn Leitner, Reagan Leitner, Hope Arellano

Aiken Women’s Challenge B: El Cedro Azul. Kylie Sheehan, Alea Crespo, Ali King, Virginia Gwinn Photo by Larry Johnson Aiken Polo Club 2021


George S Patton Cup. Bottega. Weston Stitt, Nachi Viana, Adam Snow, Kylie Sheehan

Jake Kneece Memorial: La Bourgogne. Luis Galvan, Dennys Santana, Josh Escapite, David Meunier 36

Aiken Polo Club 2021

NYTS Winners: Creative Financial Strategies. Brianna Jordan, Madison Jordan, Hope Arellano. Chris Veitch Below: NYTS All Stars: Chris Veitch, Josh Escapite, Sophie Grant, Hope Arellano, Aiden Meeker, Summer Kneece, Nick Divalentino, Reagan Leitner.

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Kareem Rosser’s New Book

“I happened to have had horses as a way to get past some of the things that I was dealing with in my life,” he said. “I hope for those people who are on the brink of giving up, or who are on their last straw, I hope they can read this book and see that other people are going through similar situations.”


areem Rosser’s new book, Crossing the Line, tells the story of how he and his brothers were introduced to polo and how the sport changed their lives. The Rosser siblings, four boys and a girl, grew up in a single parent household in a tough neighborhood in Philadelphia, referred to as The Bottom. There, they were exposed to drugs, violence and crushing poverty. Their lives were transformed by the Work to Ride program, a Philadelphia nonprofit that gives children from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to care for horses, to ride and to play polo. Kareem, along with his brother Daymar and another Work To Ride student, Brandon Rease, formed an interscholastic polo team that, in 2011, became the first all Black team to win the United States Polo Association Interscholastic championship. Kareem’s polo career continued when he went to college at Colorado State University, where he piloted his team to that school’s first intercollegiate championship in 16 years. Named Interscholastic Player of the Year in 2011, Kareem was also the Intercollegiate Player of the Year in 2015. After graduation, he went on to a stint as a member of Team USPA, the USPA’s training program for promising players, before returning to Philadelphia with a job as an analyst at a financial firm. Today, his career takes precedence over polo, but he still has time to play occasionally, and he serves on the Board of Directors of Work to Ride, where he is currently leading a capital campaign to build an indoor ring and create an endowment. Although polo was the vehicle that helped Kareem and other WTR students escape a dead-end, inner city life, he 38

Aiken Polo Club 2021

says that the book is not just about polo. “It’s about life, and struggles and overcoming whatever obstacles people are dealing with,” he said in a phone interview. “I wanted to take the opportunity to tell my full story as well as the story of Work to Ride. The program has been covered in a number of media outlets, but they’ve only been able to cover so much. I thought it was important to talk about Lezlie Hiner, the founder, and the sacrifice that she made, which ultimately saved my life, and others’ lives as well. I wanted to talk about what it took for us to get to where we are today. I wanted to highlight that, and inspire a generation of people.” As described in the book, Lezlie Hiner started Work to Ride in 1994. She got the idea after she began taking a Black child from the inner city on trail rides with her through Philly’s Fairmount Park. Realizing that Philadelphia was full of “traumatized and underserved children,” and that horses could provide an antidote to some of their troubles, she convinced the city to lease her Fairmount Park’s Chamounix stables. Then she gathered donations of tack, horses and enough cash to feed and care for them, and started the program with a set of simple rules. Children could come to the stable after school and on weekends. They would learn to care for horses, and in return, they would have riding lessons. Polo was added to the program as a way to keep the kids, especially the boys, interested and involved. In order to participate in the program, children have to commit to coming to the stable at least two days a week for a year, and they have to maintain passing grades at school.

One other thing that becomes clear is how much Kareem’s success depended on people who believed in him, invested in him, and gave him a chance. 39

Aiken Polo Club 2021

Photo by Elizabeth Hedley


areem has been a media ambassador for Work To Ride ever since he first appeared on Bryant Gumbel’s Real Sports when he was about 9 years old. The story of the WTR interscholastic championship had been featured in print and on television, and Rosser himself is a passionate and telegenic protagonist of the rewarding, underdog story of Philadelphia’s inner city kids beating the children of privilege at polo, one of the most exclusive sports in the world. Although Crossing the Line does tell this part of the story, it also includes many elements that have been left out or glossed over before, especially the very real struggle that Kareem and his family faced living at The Bottom, with its dangerous streets and its culture of drugs and violence. The book includes the harder moments, and the more difficult truths. Kareem’s two older brothers, David and Bee, joined WTR before he did, but neither stuck with the program, even though Bee was supremely talented, becoming a top-ranked interscholastic All Star in 2005. Both older brothers returned to the streets, where David was murdered in March 2020, just as Kareem was finishing his manuscript. Back in 2003, when Kareem was a young teenager, his best friend in the program, Mecca Harris, 14, was murdered along with her family in a drug related crime. Other elements that have often been left out of the story include how much Kareem’s team lost before they started winning, and how hard they had to work to learn the game and turn their team into a powerhouse. This included more than just game skills: in order to get along in polo, the WTR team needed to accept the restrictions imposed by the rules of the game – not swearing at the umpires, for instance. When Kareem and his teammates were welcomed into toney homes and polo clubs on Long Island and in Texas, they realized that what they didn’t know about this new culture was more than which fork to use for the dessert course. For Kareem, and then for his brother Daymar, escaping The Bottom required an intensive education, some of it obtained at Valley Forge Military Academy. None of it was easy, and yet Kareem did not give up. “I happened to have had horses as a way to get past some of the things that I was dealing with in my life,” he said.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

“I hope for those people who are on the brink of giving up, or who are on their last straw, I hope they can read this book and see that other people are going through similar situations.” One other thing that becomes clear is how much Kareem’s success depended on people who believed in him, invested in him, and gave him a chance. Lezlie Hiner, of course, stands out. “Without her, there would be no national champions, no ability to travel around, and to participate in the sport. I’d like to recognize her contribution not only to polo but to Philadelphia,” said Kareem. And Lezlie was not the only one to help. Throughout the story, many people in the polo community and beyond reached out to Kareem, offering him an education, jobs and recognition for his accomplishments. Like the game itself, Kareem’s success has been something of a team sport. “The one thing that stands out about polo is the opportunities that are presented and the doors that are opened,” he said. “I think about myself, for example. I was able to get a full ride to Valley Forge Military Academy because of polo. I was able to travel the world and participate in tournaments in Africa and Asia because of polo. “I hope the book inspires all people regardless of race, age, color or economic status. I hope it inspires kids that look like us, that come from similar backgrounds. I hope it motivates people who are fortunate enough to be in the position to open the doors to people who don’t have the means to participate in the sport. Polo is very unique: there is team building, camaraderie, and of course the horses. Horses are powerful creatures. Being able to bond with a different species, having that emotional connection. It gives you a sense of purpose.”

Crossing the Line is published by St. Martins Publishing group. One half of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Work To Ride.

Aiken Polo Club 2021


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Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Aiken Polo Club 2021

Gear of the Game The Team Jersey

sports the color of the player’s team and the number of the position that he plays. (From 1 to 4)

The Helmet is required equipment. As of 2021, players must wear a helmet that has passed a stringent safety test and is certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. (NOCSAE) The Bit controls

the horse. Polo players use many different kinds of bit. This one is called a pelham.

The Mallet is made

of malacca cane. It usually has a fair amount of “whip” and can bend quite a bit during a hard swing. The head is made of tipa, a South American wood. Both sides of the head are used to strike the ball.

Draw Reins run from

the player’s hand, through the bit rings and then back to the saddle. They help to steady the horse.

Knee Pads provide some protection from balls and rough ride-offs.

The Ball is

Aiden Meeker

Polo plates are special, lightweight horse

shoes designed to help the hoof to pivot in all directions.

Leg Wraps & Boots

provide support to tendons and ligaments as well as protection from balls and mallets.

made of hard plastic that dents a bit each time it is hit.


Aiken Polo Club 2021





214 The Alley | Aiken Aiken Polo Club 2021 47

Above: Charlie Caldwell Below: Jason Wates; Randy Rizor


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Trevor Niznik on the ball. Marcos Onetto defends. Jack Whitman and Randy Rizor follow up. Aiken Polo Club 2021


A Different Kind of Handicap

T he


of Polo By Pam Gleason

Left handed people make up approximately 10 percent of the population and no one really knows why some people are left handed and some people are right handed, although there are a number of different theories. As a polo player, 16-year old Virginia Gwynn, a member of the Aiken interscholastic team, faces some unique challenges. No, it is not because she is young and female – both of those things are fairly common in the polo world these days. It’s because she is left-handed. Polo, as any champion trivia player knows, is one of just three major sports in which you are not allowed to play left-handed. (The other two are field hockey and jai alai.) It’s hard enough to learn to play polo in the first place. Having to manipulate the mallet with your nondominant hand certainly adds to the difficulty. But Virginia, like other left-handed players, says that it is a challenge she is more than up to. What is it like to swing the mallet with the right hand when you are left handed? “At first it was hard,” Virginia admits. “You would tell your body to do something, and it wouldn’t do it quite right. It’s the same as if you try to write with the wrong hand. You know how to write, but it doesn’t come out looking the same.” Left: Mariano Aguerre: a natural left-handed 10-goal player. Photo by David Lominska

But she says the more she worked with her right hand, the more adept she became. Today, she says she does not see her left-handedness as a handicap at all. “I think I can hit the ball as well as someone who is right handed,” she says. “And if I did another sport like tennis, I would hold the racket in my right hand, too. It’s where I have the hand-eye coordination.” Other left-handers agree with Virginia. Once they have learned to use the mallet in the right hand, it becomes natural to them.

or left-hand is even present before birth. There are some differences in the brains of right and left-handed people. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Right handed people tend to be more one sided than left-handed people, so it actually is a little easier for left-handed people to learn to do things with the right hand than the other way around. Another interesting fact is that when left-handed people are compelled to do things with their right hands, they can rewire their brains to make this easier. Their brains also become more active. However, even if they may be able to switch some of their abilities to the right hand, left-handed people will remain lefties, and their right brains will continue to be dominant in most untrained activities.

“I never even thought about holding the mallet in my left hand,” says Rick Bostwick, another natural left-handed player whose brother, Charlie, is the Despite the prohibition current president of Aiken on holding the mallet Polo Club. “I’d love to with the left hand, natural tell you, ‘If I could have left-handers are not much played with the mallet rarer in the polo world in my left hand, I think I than in the population would have been 10 goals,’ in general. The most but is really isn’t true,” famous natural lefty in he continues. Growing polo these days is Mariano up in a polo family (his Aguerre, who reached 10 father Pete Bostwick was goals while playing right a legendary 8 goal player) handed. Another wellhe was brought up to play known high goaler who is right handed. “My dad a natural lefty is Nicolas just put the mallet in my Roldan, an 8-goal player right hand, and that is the based in Florida. Carlos way I always played.” Like Galindo, formerly 5 goals, Virginia, Rick says that is a lefty. So are Prince he also plays other sports Charles and his son Prince right handed, although Above: Virginia Gwinn: a natural lefty William. Some natural he continues to do other left-handers even say they have an advantage because they things, such as write, left-handed. Rick, who is a polo handle the reins with their left, dominant hand, which professional in Florida today, was 6 goals at the height of gives them better and more sensitive control of the horse. his polo career. Left handed people make up approximately 10 percent of the population and no one really knows why some people are left handed and some people are right handed, although there are a number of different theories. In any case, a tendency to be right handed has been a feature of human behavior ever since the days of the caveman, and studies have also shown that a preference to use the right

Why do the rules insist on players using their right hands? For safety reasons, according to the USPA. The rules were formulated for right-handed players, and it can be confusing when there are some players using their left hands. This is particularly true when players are galloping towards one another to meet the ball. The rules allow players to meet at a full gallop right-hand to right-hand, Aiken Polo Club 2021


Other well known left-handed players include Skey Johnston (5 goals) who is a former chairman of the USPA and a member of the Polo Hall of Fame. Johnston, who competed in the medium and high goal, was playing in 1974 when the rules changed to disallow left-handed play. Fortunately for him, the USPA made some exceptions, allowing left-handers who were registered as such before 1974 to continue to play left-handed. Another “grandfathered” left-hander was William Lyall, a former intercollegiate player who founded the Oxford Polo Club in Florida. After Johnston retired from play, Lyall was the only lefty remaining – he used to joke that he was the best left-handed player in the country. Lyall died in 2005 at the age of 71 – he was still playing.

J. Watson Webb: a 10-goaler who played left-handed as long as each is moving parallel to the line of the ball and stays on his side of the right-of-way. If one of the players held his mallet in his left hand, he would have to be leaning over the horse’s neck to strike the ball on the horse’s right (off ) side. Aside from looking strange, this actually probably would be more dangerous, since it would be easier for the left-handed player to accidentally cause his horse to veer into the other horse’s path and cause a collision. This discussion is not hypothetical: the ban on lefthanded players is actually relatively recent in the United States. Before 1974, left-handed play was allowed, and, although many left-handers learned to play right handed back then, there were some who used their left hands. The most famous left-handed player was the great J. Watson Webb, a 10-goaler who was part of the “Big Four” polo team that won the Westchester Cup against England three times in the 1920s. Webb, tall and lanky, generally played position 3 or 1, and was said to be very hard to play against. He probably did have some natural advantages. For instance, anyone who plays 1 knows that when you turn on a teammate’s tail shot and go on the offense, you will very often find the line of the ball is on your left, and you will need to make a nearside shot to avoid fouling. If your nearside shot was also your best shot, as it would be with your mallet in your left hand, you would be able to move the ball towards your opponent’s goal more forcefully. 52

Aiken Polo Club 2021

“Changing that rule was the best thing they could have done,” says Rick Bostwick, who remembers encountering left-handed players on the field. “It was confusing. I remember seeing them coming and just getting out of the way. You never knew if you were going to have a crash or not.” There was even once a father-son game in Tennessee in which William Lyall and his son Lord played against Skey Johnston and his son Skeeter. Two left-handed players going against one another was almost more than the umpires could take. In fact, the story goes that at one point the two lefties met the ball in a knock-in, each leaning across to take the ball on the correct, off-side of the horse. It confused the umpires so much it took them 20 minutes to determine if someone had fouled or not.

Changing that rule was the best thing they could have done,” says Rick Bostwick.

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Above: Kylie Sheehan goes for goal; Willie Hartnett Below: Frank Mullins; Pippa Campbell rides off Nick Divalentino


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Above: Pedro Lara backs the ball; Stuart Campbell defends. Hope Arellano on the near side Below: Eddy Martinez and Nachi Viana

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Grayson Brown memorial on Whitney Field. Eddy Martinez, Nancy Brown, Frank Mullins Below: The Brown family


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Above: Anna Hale. Photo by Larry Johnson Below: Allison Patricelli and Eddy Martinez; Hope Arellano scores again

Aiken Polo Club 2020


A Polo Timeline By Pam Gleason

The Birth of Polo, circa 600 BCE

Exactly when was the first game of polo? No one knows for sure. Most historians agree that the game was popular in Central Asia by the sixth century BCE. Over the next two thousand years, it spread to China, Japan and India, and polo players, equipment and games are featured in the art of those countries.

1882 Polo Comes to Aiken

In the spring of 1882, Captain Clarence Southerland Wallace, a New Yorker and an executive in the Havemeyer Sugar Company (now Domino sugar) organized Aiken’s first game. According to the March 27, 1882 edition of the Charleston News and Courier, the game was a gala affair attended by about 10,000 spectators. That first game was played on Whitney Field, the same field that we play on today. This makes Whitney Field the oldest continuously played-upon polo field in North America.

The Birth of the Modern Era 1850-1876

By the 19th century, polo was firmly established in India. There, British tea planters encountered the game during the 1850s, and took it up themselves and brought it back to England in 1869. England’s first public game between the 10th Hussars and the 9th Lancers took place on Hounslow Heath in London. The teams had eight to a side, and the players, full grown men, were mounted on 12.2 hand ponies imported from Ireland. Within a few years, polo was a popular sport and in 1873, the Hurlingham Club, an exclusive sports and social club in London, published the first official rules of the game, and other clubs soon adopted these rules as their own. From England, polo spread throughout the lands of the British Empire. In the spring of 1876, it came to the United States in the luggage of James Gordon Bennet, an eccentric millionaire newspaper publisher. The first games in America were held in and around New York City.


Aiken Polo Club 2020

Blueprint for the layout of Whitney Field.

1890 Polo Association

In 1890, the Polo Association, later to become the United States Polo Association, was formed in New York. The first chairman, H.L. Herbert, came up with the idea of assigning handicaps to keep teams even and provide for better sport. Founding members included Thomas Hitchcock Sr., who had learned to play while a student at Oxford, and was one of America’s first 10-goal players. Thomas Hitchcock, one of America's first 10-goal players.

appearance. Louise Hitchcock also started Aiken Prep School, which would become an important training ground for America’s young players. Aiken Prep had a polo program overseen by the indomitable Captain William Gaylard. Loulie Hitchcock had her own junior polo programs as well, for girls and for boys.

1920s -1930s Golden Age of American Polo Louise and Thomas Hitchcock are often credited as the founders of the Aiken Winter Colony.

1891 Louise Eustis marries Thomas Hitchcock

Louise Eustis, born in 1867, grew up spending her winters in Aiken with her aunt and guardian Celestine Eustis. In 1891, she married Thomas Hitchcock, who was a friend of her older brothers. “Loulie” loved Aiken, and persuaded her new husband to winter there with her. The Hitchcocks induced many of their friends to come to Aiken with them from December through March. Aiken became a golfing Mecca and a foxhunting and polo town.

By the early 1920s, many of the young players who learned to play in Aiken’s junior polo programs matured, ushering in the “Golden Age” of American polo. Graduates of Aiken’s junior programs included top names in the sport, such as Thomas and Loulie’s son Tommy Hitchcock, who won both the Junior and the Senior Championship at the age of 16 and went on to become the 10-goaler Tommy most famous 10-goal polo player of Hitchcock his (and perhaps of any) time. Polo was everywhere: there were 14 fields within city limits and games every day throughout the winter and spring.

One of Thomas Hitchcock’s best friends was the sportsman W.C. Whitney. Together, Whitney and Hitchcock bought up thousands of acres. In 1901, they established the Whitney Trust, “for the promotion of all kinds of sports and pastimes in the city.” Whitney Field was put into this trust; so was the Palmetto Golf Course and the Court Tennis building downtown.

1916: Winter Colony Flourishes

In 1916, World War I was brewing overseas, and New York sportsmen who might have traveled to England to go foxhunting for the winter season came to Aiken instead. In this year, the Hitchcocks founded the Aiken Hounds, and the Aiken Horse Show made its first

Players in the 50th anniversary game on Whitney Field, 1932.

1932: Aiken Polo’s 50th Anniversary

The Aiken Polo Golden Anniversary started with a huge parade through town and culminated in two polo matches on Whitney Field. The first of these matches was a recreation of the first game at Aiken. Players and spectators dressed up in 1880s costumes, complete with long sideburns and top hats for the men and bustles and corsets for the women. It was, according to the Aiken Standard, “Such a day and such an occasion as Aiken has never seen before and may never see again.” Women playing polo in the 1930s. Aiken Polo Club 2020


1940s -1970s War and Beyond

Recognized polo events were canceled during World War II, but Aiken still had some youth games and women’s games to raise money for war bonds. When combat ended, polo returned to Aiken’s fields, but without the fervor of the old days. Aiken lost several players in the war, most notably the 8-goaler Charles von Stade, who was killed in action in Germany in 1945 and 10-goal legend Tommy Hitchcock, who was killed in a plane crash while serving with the United States Army Air Forces in England in 1944.

Dave Widener, Paul Rizzo, Dave Rizzo, Don Boyd with Mrs. Conrad Ruckelshaus, 1972.

1982 Aiken Polo Centennial

Aiken’s Centennial in 1982 was a gala, weeklong affair, complete with parades, house tours, polo exhibits, fashion shows and fireworks. There were two main polo events during this week. The first was the 16-goal America’s Cup Polo Tournament and the second was the Centennial game, another recreation of Aiken’s first game, played as it was in 1932, in old-fashioned costumes and with antiquated rules. Following the Polo Centennial, the Aiken Polo Club, was reorganized as a 501c3 charitable institution with a mission to promote and preserve the playing of polo on Aiken’s historic fields. Polo players Tom Biddle and David Widener started a program to actively recruit new players from Aiken’s equestrian community. Most importantly, they started a junior program, which introduced the next generation to the sport.


Aiken Polo Club 2020

Lewis Smith, Pete Bostwick, Fred Fortugno, George Greenhalgh, Dave Rizzo, Andy Guest.

Aiken’s young players grew up to be dedicated professional players and included Tom’s son Tommy Biddle, one of the few players ever to reach 10 goals in the arena and Tiger Kneece, a former 7-goal player who is now the Aiken Polo Club manager.

Tommy Biddle and Tiger Kneece Centennial Game

1990s-2000s Growth of the Sport

In the 1990s, polo was on the upswing in Aiken. Homegrown young players matured into serious competitors and Aiken began hosting an increasing number of tournaments. Adam Snow and Owen Rinehart, 10-goal professional players, bought property outside of town and were instrumental in attracting more players to the area. Many of these players soon bought their own homes and farms. Located halfway between Florida and Doug Batchelor, Mit Carothers, Tom Biddle, Dr. Grayson Brown the northern clubs, Aiken was a convenient stopping point and an excellent place for professionals to make the transition from their winter to their summer strings. By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, at least 60 professional players had established permanent Aiken bases. Many more amateur players joined them.

Tommy Biddle charges past the social tent.

Aiken Polo Pavilion, 2014

In the first decade of the 20th century, Aiken Polo Club began offering social memberships and hosting weekly fieldside tent parties at Sunday games. By 2010, the Sunday tent was such a beloved institution that Aiken Polo Club decided to construct a permanent fieldside viewing pavilion. Alan Corey, III, a longtime player at Aiken Polo Club and a member of its board of directors, led the campaign to build this pavilion, which was ready to be used in the fall of 2014. The next part of the project was to raise money for the club through the sale of memorial bricks that line the pavilion’s floor. Tragically, Alan was unable to see through this final part of the project: he died as the result of a heart attack during the first practice of the spring season in 2015. After this, the pavilion, now the Alan Lyle Corey III Pavilion, was dedicated in his honor. The memorial brick campaign is ongoing.

Alan Corey in the new pavilion Aiken Polo Club 2021


2017 and Beyond: Aiken Youth Polo The best polo players start young. To make sure that Aiken Polo Club will continue to thrive, Tiger and Susie Kneece started Aiken Youth Polo, an instructional league for young players. Today, young players who started as small children are an active and important part of the club, many of them maturing into skilled and promising players. Aiken Youth Polo is its own 501c3 and, like Aiken Polo Club, accepts tax deductible contributions. (For more information please visit our website:

Many of these young players are highly accomplished today.


Aiken Polo Club 2020

Aiken Youth Polo team, 2017

Aiken Polo Club 2021


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George S. Patton Military Hero & Polo Enthusiast By Pam Gleason

In October, Aiken Polo Club will once again hold the United States Polo Association George S. Patton tournament in honor of the renowned World War II general. The Patton tournament is one of four circuit Armed Forces tournaments awarded to polo clubs throughout the country, each representing one branch of the service: General Patton (Army), General S. Brown (Air Force), Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (Navy) and General Lewis Puller (Marine Corps.) In order to be eligible to participate, each team has to have one member that is a current or retired military member, has a military spouse, or comes from a family with a military background. It is not as difficult to meet this requirement as it might seem, considering that almost 40% of players have a military connection themselves. Many more have military members in their immediate families. The goal of the military tournaments is to celebrate and promote the ties between the military and the sport of polo.

Of all the circuit military

Of all the circuit military tournaments, the George S. Patton is the most popular, probably because many people, whether they have served or not, know his name. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Patton was a lifelong horseman as well as a devoted and enthusiastic polo player. When he was not actively at war (he served in World War I and World War II) much of his time was devoted to equestrian pursuits, and polo was probably his favorite non-combat activity of all – possibly this was because he saw deep connections between polo and battle, once describing a polo match as a kind of a “good war.”

tournaments, the George S.

Patton was born in 1885 to a wealthy family in San Marino, California. His father, also named George Smith Patton, was a lawyer who owned a 400-acre ranch where Patton learned to ride at a young age. In the summers, the family spent time on fashionable Catalina Island off the California Coast. Frederick Ayer, a Boston-based industrialist, used to bring his family there for the summer too. There, “Georgie” and Ayer’s daughter Beatrice Banning Ayer became fast friends as children, keeping up a correspondence into adulthood and eventually marrying in 1910. The Ayer family was very active in the equestrian world, including foxhunting and playing polo at Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

don’t realize, however, is


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Patton is the most popular, probably because many people, whether they have served or not, know his name. What many people

that Patton was a lifelong horseman as well as a devoted and enthusiastic polo player.

Patton went to West Point and then to Virginia Military Institute, and may have started playing polo while at West Point. He first appears in the USPA Blue Book in 1912, when he was 27 years old. He was listed as a member of the USPA until 1942, starting out with a 0-goal rating and rising to 4 in 1926, a handicap which he held until 1932. Polo was encouraged in the Army, since it was considered to be excellent training for battle, and many bases, mostly those associated with the cavalry,

Patton played polo, encouraged others to play, and wrote several pamphlets for the Army about the game. “The virtue of polo as a military accomplishment rests on the following,” he wrote in one of them: “It makes a man think fast while excited; it reduces his natural respect for his own safety, that is – it makes him bold; it teaches restraint under exciting circumstances . . . polo is not simply a game; it is a vital professional asset…it is the nearest approach to mounted combat which can be secured in peace; makes

George Patton at center after winning the Argentine Cup around 1934. Eager, Rogers, Patton, Devers. had their own polo programs and organized their own tournaments. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Army sent official teams to national USPA tournaments, including the U.S. Open and the National Junior Tournament (now the Silver Cup 20-goal), which it won seven times between World War I and World War II.

riding worthwhile; keeps a man hard and teaches better horse management.” Patton played whenever and wherever he got the chance: at Fort Meyers outside of Washington DC, where he was part of the Fort Meyers Freebooters team, in Hawaii, where he was stationed in the 1920s, at Myopia Polo Aiken Polo Club 2021


Club when he was visiting his wife’s family. Unlike many other Army players, Patton had the means and the ability to buy and maintain his own string of horses, which followed him from posting to posting – other Army players may have had a horse or two, but played the majority of their games on relatively inexpensive cavalry horses. Patton had a string of at least seven most of the time. Patton also foxhunted, rode in amateur steeplechase races and participated in horse shows, amassing over 200 cups and 400 ribbons. He even showed at Madison Square Garden. In addition, in 1912 he represented the U.S. in the Modern Pentathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm, where he placed fifth, behind four Swedes. (He was sixth in the riding portion of the event.) On the polo field, Patton seems to have exhibited the same go-for-broke attitude that earned him the nickname “Old Blood and Guts” on the battlefield. A nephew recounted that he was not a great player, but that “he made up for his lack of skill by the ferocious manner in which he played, replete with profanities that were highly unsuitable for tender ears.” Other players remarked that he had two speeds: fast and faster. Like many polo players with a similar style, Patton did not see his way of playing as particularly unusual. In 1922, he was stationed on Long Island where his team had the chance to play against the same high goal players who would come to Aiken for the winter. (He called them the nicest rich people he had ever met.) But they were merciless to the poorly mounted and lower rated Army players. After a particularly brutal shellacking of the Army squad by some of these men, Patton wrote in defense of the Army players, who had a reputation for being rough and tough. This was a fallacy, he said: “Compared to good players we are as lambs to raging lions.” Given his style of play, it is not surprising that Patton suffered many riding and polo injuries during his life. He endured broken bones and concussions as well as a few accidents that threatened to end his military career. 68

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He was also in several serious car crashes – perhaps he drove the way he played? In any case, he seems to have acknowledged that his equestrian pursuits were dangerous. When he traveled to Europe for the Allied war effort during WWII, he wrote to reassure his wife Beatrice. “I am a lot safer here than I usually am at home because I don’t play polo or race or do any other interesting thing,” he said. Patton died in 1945 twelve days after breaking his neck in an automobile accident while still stationed in Germany after the end of the hostilities in WWII. His limousine driver crashed into an oncoming Army truck that was turning left in front of them. A horseman to the end, he was said to have been chiefly worried that he might never be able to ride or play polo again. His official cause of death was pulmonary edema. He was 60. The George S. Patton tournament honors his polo legacy and perpetuates his passion for the game, which players everywhere share – though hopefully with somewhat less rough riding and salty language.

Many thanks to the Patton Museum Foundation in Fort Knox Kentucky for providing information for this article and to the Wenham Museum, holder of the Patton family archives, for the use of their pictures.

Above: Chilo Cordova on the ball. Below: Amy Flowers; Kristen Paysinger

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Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021


Above: Nachi Viana; Robyn Leitner rides off Dennys Santana Below: Horacio Onetto


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Above: Reagan Leitner; Brianna Jordan Below: Jack Whitman on the ball, Randy Rizor for the hook

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Vlad Tarashansky ahead of the crowd 74

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Above: Josh Escapite and Nachi Viana; Chris Veitch Below: Marcos Onetto ahead of Matt Sekera; Amy Flowers hooks Stuart Campbell

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Aiken Polo Club 2021

Above Aiden Meeker and Alea Crespo; Adam Snow and Jason Wates race for the ball Below: Hope Arellano on the nearside with Willie Hartnett; Nick Divalentino on the ball

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Above: Stuart Campbell; Inez Onetto Below: Tommy Huber avoids the hook from Lucas Arellano


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Buffalo, 1923

Remembering Seymour Knox

A Passionate Player By Pam Gleason


eymour Knox II first encountered polo in the summer of 1921 when a college friend lent him a horse to stick and ball at the Lake Shore Hunt Club in Derby, New York. He was 22 years old at the time and a recent graduate of Yale, where he had been the captain of the squash team. Athletic, competitive, 82

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and a horse lover, he was instantly bitten by the bug and decided “to give it a good try and find out if I could play,” according to one of his memoirs. It turned out that he certainly could play. In a polo career that spanned half a century, he played in many of

the most prestigious tournaments in the United States, including the US Open, in which his Aurora team made the finals three times and won once. He also played internationally in England and in Argentina. He was a small man, coming by his nickname “Shorty” quite appropriately – various accounts put his height at 5’4”, but this was definitely a generous interpretation. (In some of his pictures at various trophy tables, the difference between his height and that of his teammates in very striking.) “Shorty” was also strictly an amateur player. His real job was with the Midland National Bank, where he was a director, and then vice president and chairman. But he had immense energy and passion for the game. He also treated his polo hobby seriously, studying the game assiduously, practicing often, and making sure his horses were well trained and looked after. Playing with the best talents of America’s Golden Age of polo, he rose to 7 goals, holding his own in world-class company. He also left an important legacy to the sport in his sons Seymour III and Northrup (known as Norty) who both became serious players. Norty, the only post World War II amateur to reach 8 goals, served as the chairman of the USPA and was inducted into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame in 1994. Seymour Knox II grew up in Buffalo, New York, where his family was well established. His father, also named Seymour Knox, was one of the founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company and was the first director of Midland National Bank. A horse lover, he was passionate about harness racing horses and bred some of the top trotters and pacers in the country at a large farm that he bought in East Aurora, New York. The farm was called Ideal Stock Farm, after his first stallion Prince Ideal. There were two training tracks on the property, and room for about 40 horses. Seymour senior died in 1915 when he was just 54, leaving the property to his widow Grace, along with 16-year-old Seymour II and his two sisters, Dorothy and Marjorie. Top right: Aurora in England, Coronation Cup. H. Talbott, Seymour Knox, Elmer Boeseke, William Post Middle right: Aiken Polo 50th Anniversary 1932. Lewis Smith and Seymour Knox in stripes. Devereux Milburn presiding. Bottom right: Seymour flanked by his sons, Seymour III and Nortty.

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In 1922, a few months after Seymour II was introduced to polo, he made his way to Aiken. He and a college friend had repaired there for the winter to recuperate – from an appendectomy in his case, and his friend, from an operation. It was the roaring 20s and the Aiken Winter Colony was in full swing. Seymour and his friend stayed at the gracious Highland Park Hotel and attended polo matches, or drove their rented horse and buggy to the hunt meets every day. Even though the hotel caught fire and burned, which cut their season short, they had a wonderful time and loved Aiken. Seymour felt so much a part of the Aiken polo scene that he bought a horse named Spider from the polo pony trainer and dealer Fred Post, “Even though I couldn’t ride at the time, indicating what a good salesman he was,” he recalled. “This started me in polo.” It was also the start of his involvement in the Aiken Winter Colony. He returned the next year to stay with his sister Dorothy who had rented the Winter Colony cottage Whitehall. The year after that, he spent a month in Aiken as part of his honeymoon with his new bride Helen Northrup Knox. The Knox newlyweds rented the cottage Rye Patch that year, and then, in 1928, purchased the land on Whiskey Road that they would transform into The Balcony, one of the most iconic of Aiken winter residences. They had polo ponies and hunters, and they were ideally situated to ride to Whitney Field or to the Hitchcock Woods. The Balcony became their winter home, and they raised their two sons, both students at Aiken Prep, to follow Aiken sporting traditions. 84

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Seymour with Best Playing Pony Strumma.

On the sidelines with Jimmy Mills.

At the game with Seymour III and Norty.

In addition to playing polo, Seymour used to join his wife Helen on the hunt field. Mrs. Knox, always mounted sidesaddle, was the MFH of the Aiken Hounds, as well as of the East Aurora Hunt. The horses that the Knoxes purchased were top notch, and were also often trained in more than one sport. For instance, Vanity Fair, one of Seymour’s favorite mounts from the late 1920s and early 1930s, was an exceptional playing pony who competed in the U.S. Open and won several polo pony races and championships at polo pony shows. She also carried Seymour on the hunt field and was so beautiful he commissioned a portrait of her from the famous equine artist George Ford Morris. Another polo pony, War Crest, was a granddaughter of Man o’War. When her playing days were over she became a foxhunter for Seymour III, competed in the Aiken Horse Show and even pulled a buggy to the Aiken Post Office to get the mail “during gas rationing days.” Seymour played polo in Aiken during the winter and was based at his East Aurora farm, now known as Ess Kay Farm during the summer. He played in Buffalo, in Toronto, on Long Island, and anywhere else there was a good tournament. Building his own fields at Ess Kay Farm, he was able to organize practices, and to invite his high goal friends to come over for polo weekends with their wives. Given his deep dedication, perhaps it is not that surprising that he rose quickly in polo. In 1928 he was already 4 goals. In 1931, he was invited to play in the U.S. Open for

the first time, on the Sands Point Polo team. Then that winter, he was asked to bring a team to play in the Argentine Open, which he did, traveling to Buenos Aires by boat with Helen, his horses and his team. In 1932, he entered his own team, Aurora, in the U.S. Open. Defeated in the semifinals that year, Aurora returned in 1933 with a new lineup and came out the winners. In the 1934 Blue Book, Seymour was raised to a 7-goal handicap, which he held for three years. In addition to playing in the U.S. and Argentina, Seymour took his team to England at the invitation of the Hurlingham Polo Association, the first time in 1934. “Win or lose, the trip was to be a sporting adventure with one of the chief purposes the renewing of friendly polo relations and getting better acquainted with our English polo friends,” he wrote. His teams did extremely well, winning such tournaments as the Champion Cup and the Roehampton Cup. In later years, when Seymour had retired from high goal play himself, Aurora continued to compete nationally and internationally, this time with Seymour III and/or Norty swinging the mallet.

and Lewis Smith, a 9-goal player who worked for the Knox family for decades. Seymour’s second passion after polo was art. This he also inherited from his father, who established a foundation for the Buffalo museum, now called the Albright Knox Art Gallery. The Seymour H. Knox Foundation donated millions to the museum, constructing additions and filling them with art. Seymour II’s special interest was modern art, and he has often been cited as modern art pioneer, recognizing and collecting now-celebrated artists before they became famous, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. He was involved with the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy from 1926 onwards, becoming its chairman in 1977 and working with the director of the Albright Knox Art Gallery to scout

out and acquire new and interesting works from around the world, many of which he purchased and donated to the museum. Named the Buffalo Citizen of the Year in 1952 and again in 1987, he was also awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, among his many other honors. Seymour Knox II died in 1990 at the age of 92. One of the highest rated amateur players in polo history and an enthusiast in everything he did, he was a unique and many-sided individual. He was also, incidentally, the subject of a portrait by Andy Warhol, done as part of a series of celebrity paintings in 1985. The painting, showing five versions of his face in an array of typical Warhol colors, currently resides in the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.

On the beautiful Vanity Fair in Aiken, around 1929.

After he stopped playing the high goal, Seymour continued to be deeply involved in his sons’ polo, as well as to stick and ball and to play himself – he was still registered as a 4-goal player in 1967, the year he turned 69. His influence on Aiken Polo Club can hardly be overestimated, and he was a prominent player on Whitney Field for decades. He played in the 50th anniversary game in 1932, and then in the 75th anniversary game in 1957, on a team with his two sons Aiken Polo Club 2020



Aiken Polo Club 2021

Aiken Polo Club 2021



Aiken Polo Club 2021

Polo Glossary

When you go to a polo match, especially if it is your first one, you will discover that polo players and fans speak a slightly different language. Sometimes it sounds like English; sometimes like Spanish; sometimes it just sounds odd. Just what are the players saying and what do they mean? The following is an abbreviated polo glossary that might help you understand what is going on around you.


When a player yells “away!” he is calling for a backshot that is angled away from his horse. Most of the time, the players will try to hit their backshots at an angle. There are two good reasons for this. The first is that it is easier for the players following to turn and get “on the line” if the ball is travelling at an angle. The second is that there are usually players directly behind the hitter, so hitting straight back often means the ball will bounce off horses or other players. (See also “open” and “tail.”)

Ball: The polo ball is about 3½ inches in diameter and weighs around 4½ ounces. In ancient days, the polo ball was made of the root of the willow tree; the word “polo” may derive from the word “pulu” which was an ancient Manipuri Indian word meaning “willow.” Throughout history, polo balls have been made of a variety of different materials including wood and leather. Today, they are almost exclusively made of white plastic. Every hard hit dents the ball a bit, so that one that has made it through a game is no longer absolutely round and is actually smaller than a new ball. A polo game requires many balls so that there is always one handy for knock-ins from the endline or for foul shots. If a ball rolls out of bounds, don’t throw it back onto the field. When a player knocks a ball over the sideboards, the opposing team will get a free hit.

Bump: A player may ride into an opponent in order to spoil his or her shot. The angle of the bump must be no greater than 45 degrees. Although a bump can be quite hard, it may not endanger either horse or rider. A bump is “dangerous riding” and a foul if either horse is significantly ahead of the other, going much faster than the other, or if the bump causes either mount to lose its balance.


A period in polo is called a “chukker,” or sometimes a “chukka.” Each chukker lasts seven and a half minutes and there are either four or six chukkers in each game. After each chukker, the players leave the field and then return with fresh horses for the next chukker. A horse may play one or at most two chukkers in a game. The word chukker comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “the turn of a wheel,” which is presumably how periods in polo used to be timed. Today, officials use electronic timers.

Divot: A piece cut loose from the turf, created by galloping hooves - or more likely by horses stopping quickly. At halftime, spectators are invited on the field to replace the divots, otherwise known as “stomping the divots.”

Flagger: An official who is stationed behind each goal to determine whether or not a goal has been scored. If yes, the flagger waves the flag over his head. If no, he waves it down by his feet.

Foul: Also a “penalty.” A foul is any infringement of the rules. When the umpires blow their whistles, time stops and the team fouled takes a free hit. Depending on the severity of the foul, the free hit may be from the point of the infraction, or closer to the goal. If the umpires determine that there was no actual foul or that both teams fouled simultaneously, they may have a throw-in instead of the foul shot. Polo being a gentleman’s game, it is actually a foul to appeal for a foul. Goal:

The purpose of polo is to score goals by hitting the ball through the goal posts. It doesn’t matter how high in the air a player hits the ball: as long as it passes between the parallel lines created by the goal posts, it counts as a goal. After each goal, the teams switch directions and return to the center of the field for a throw-in. Also a term for a handicap, as in “How many goals are you?” (See next entry)

Handicap: Every player is assigned a handicap from -2 to 10 goals. This handicap reflects the player’s theoretical worth to his or her team and has nothing whatever to do with how many goals he or she might score during a match. On each team, the four players’ handicaps are added together to arrive at a team handicap. Team handicaps are used to classify tournaments: in an 8-goal tournament, each team may be a maximum of eight goals, for instance. If a 7-goal team plays against an 8-goal team, the 7-goal team will start the game with one goal, “on handicap.”

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Hook: A defensive play. A player may hook or strike at an opponent’s mallet when the opponent is in the act of hitting at the ball. No player may reach over, under or across an opponent’s horse: this is a “cross hook” and a foul. A “high hook” (above the level of the player’s shoulder) is also a foul. Sometimes a player commits a foul hook by accident. This is an “inadvertent foul hook” and merits a free hit from the spot. “Leave it!”

A player may call for a teammate to “leave it” (meaning don’t try to hit the ball) if the player behind the one “on the ball” thinks he has a better shot. Generally speaking, the player behind has a better view of the game and knows if it would be better for the player in front to leave it or not.

Line of the Ball: The imaginary line that the ball creates from where a player hits it to where it is going. The line extends indefinitely across the field. Many of the right-of-way rules in polo are based on the concept of the line of the ball. Generally, a player tries not to cross the line of the ball, especially in front of someone who is “on the line.”

Knock-in: When the ball goes over the endline but not through the goal posts, the team defending that goal gets a free hit or “knock-in” from the point where the ball went out. Attacking players must stay 30 yards away from the hitter until the ball is in play. Mallet: The polo stick. Mallet canes are made of malacca, a type of palm that grows in the Asian rainforest. The mallet head is typically made of tipa wood from Argentina or Brazil. Since polo is not croquet, players do not have to hit the ball with the pointed end of the mallet. Instead, they hit it with the side of the head, at the juncture of the head and the cane. Sometimes when a player yells for a teammate to hook an opponent, he will yell “Mallet!” Other times, when a player breaks his mallet, he may yell “mallet!” to his groom. With luck, someone will come to the endline to bring him a new one. The play never stops just because one of the players has a broken mallet.

Near Side:

The left side of the horse. A near side shot is one taken on the left side of the horse. All players carry their mallets in their right hands, so to execute a near side shot, they must lean across the horse. Near side shots are more difficult than off side (right side) shots.


Aiken Polo Club 2021

Neck Shot: A shot made under the horse’s neck, causing the ball to travel at an angle in front of the horse. Players must lean forward and hit the ball well in front of them to execute a neck shot properly. Otherwise, the ball will bounce off into the pony’s galloping legs. Off Side: The right side of the horse. The most common shot in polo is an off side forehand. The right side of the horse is called the “off side” because riders usually handle horses from the left (near) side. Open: (a) A shot that travels at an angle away from the horse, either backwards or forwards. Also called a cut shot. (b) A polo game that is played without consideration of handicaps: in other words, a lower handicapped team would not receive any goals to start with.


Although they are full-sized, full-grown horses, polo mounts are called ponies. This term comes from the early modern history of polo. When British tea planters learned the game from Manipuri Indians in the mid-nineteenth century, they did indeed play on ponies. As the sport developed, players used larger and larger mounts. By the end of the World War I, height limits for polo mounts were a memory. Today, many polo ponies in America are Thoroughbred horses, some of which began their careers on the racetrack.

Pony Goal: A goal that is scored by a pony kicking it in. Pony goals count just as much as goals scored by players. If your pony scores a goal, the trick, of course, is to make sure that he kicks it through the correct goal. No one likes to ride a pony that is scoring points for the opposition!

Ride-off: See “Bump.” In a ride-off, a player encourages his horse to lean into his opponent’s horse. The rider may also make contact with his opponent, but only with his shoulder. “Elbowing” is a foul. Safety:

If a defending player hits the ball over his own endline, the umpires blow the whistle for a “safety.” The attacking team takes a foul shot 60 yards out, parallel to the point at which the ball went out of bounds.

Sudden Death: If the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the game goes to sudden death overtime. The overtime chukker is timed just like a regular chukker,

and ends either if one team scores, or at the seven-anda-half minute mark. It is possible for a game to go to double, or triple overtime. More usually, however, if a game is still tied at the end of the overtime period, the match winner will be determined by a shootout, in which every player on each team takes a turn making a foul shot.

Tail shot:

A back shot executed at an angle behind the horse (“under the tail.”) When a player calls to a teammate to “tail-it!” he is asking for a tail shot. The opposite of a tail shot is a cut, or an open shot

“Take the man!” Like “leave it!” this is something that a player might yell at a teammate who is in front of him. He is asking his teammate to ride off an opponent and leave the ball for the player behind him.

or team that fouled argues, the penalty might be “moved up” (increased) on a technical. Umpires ask a player who earns two technicals in a chukker, or three in a game, to leave the field.

Third Man: Also the “referee.” The third man sits on the sidelines and watches the play carefully. It is his duty to settle disputes between umpires by giving his opinion as to whether or not a foul was committed. Never distract the third man!


The way a ball is put into play in a neutral situation, such as at the beginning of the game or after a goal. The umpire lines the two teams up facing him, and then bowls the ball between them. Each team fights for possession.


A penalty exacted against displays of poor sportsmanship. If an umpire awards a foul and the player

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9 80 4

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Belle of All

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame

Owned and Played by Louis E. Stoddard By Pam Gleason


hen Belle of All, a 9-year old Thoroughbred mare, won the heavyweight polo pony class at the National Polo Pony Society’s annual show in 1921, the crowd let out a great cheer. The mare, owned and ridden by Louis E. Stoddard, a 10-goaler who wintered in Aiken, had gone to England that summer to play in the Westchester Cup, the historic America vs. Great Britain challenge. The Americans played the British twice and won twice, and Belle of All played three chukkers in each match. Her brilliant play, speed, stamina, courage and beauty had earned her an enthusiastic following. Belle of All went on to win her breed class at the show, and then was named the champion polo pony of the year. She returned in 1922 to repeat her victory. She had become one of the most famous polo horses of her day, “easily the queen of polo ponies ever bred in America,” according to Newell Bent, author of American Polo (1929). But Belle of All didn’t start out life so well. She was bred to be a racehorse by Colonel E. R. Bradley at Idle Hour


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Stud near Lexington, Kentucky. She didn’t make it to the track, however, and gained a reputation for being difficult to handle. Legend has it that she entered the world of polo after kicking apart a cart that she had been hitched to. Joe Murphy, a polo trainer known for having a great eye for a horse, purchased her. Shortly afterwards, Fred Post, one of the greatest polo trainers of America’s Golden Age, picked her up, and “made her a real polo pony” according to an article in the New York Times. Fred Post maintained a large polo and racehorse training facility in Aiken at the site of today’s Aiken Training Track. Belle of All came with him to Aiken, where she caught the eye of Louis Stoddard and his wife. Mrs. Stoddard was so captivated by the mare that she bought her as a present for her husband. Louis Stoddard, who played the Number One position on America’s international teams, was a tall man known for his accurate hitting, and Belle of All’s extreme speed suited his style of play perfectly. When Belle’s playing days were over, she was retired to be a broodmare.