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INTERCOLLEGIATE

USPA � 1/1 NTERSCHOLASTIC

;\,,-el\ PoLO Cwn

Crestview Farm and Crestview Reproductive Center are pleased to su pport Aiken Youth Polo.

CRESTVIEW FARM'M Perpetuating the fines/

(817) 348-0010

CRESTVIEW

REPRODUCTIVE CENTER


Luxury Performance Legendary


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Aiken Polo Club 2019


Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Aiken Polo Club 2019


Come experience the newest jewel in Riverside Village,

The Crowne Plaza North Augusta Join us for wood-fired cuisine at Salt + Marrow Kitchen and cocktails at Jackson’s Bluff rooftop bar 1060 Center Street, Nor th Augusta | South Carolina | 29841 w w w.CrowneNor thAugusta.com 1-803-349-8400

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Aiken Polo Club 2018

AN HOTEL NORTH AUGUSTA


Aiken Polo Club 2018

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Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Contents 10 Letter from the President 12 Polo Schedule 14 Accommodations Guide 16 Introduction to Polo 20 2018 Tournaments 38 Tiger Kneece; APC Manager 44 Gear of the Game 50 Growing the Future of Polo 58 Aiken Polo History

66 What Make Polo Unique 78 Remembering Gerald Balding 86 Polo Glossary 90 Katrina: A Horse to Remember

Aiken Polo Club 2019 P.O. Box 3021 Aiken, SC 29802 Volume 15. Published annually Editor & Publisher: Pam Gleason Layout & Design: Innovative Solutions Photography by WarhorsePhotography.com Gary Knoll Pam Gleason Larry Johnson Maybe Ortiz Special thanks to the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame Editorial Inquiries: Aiken Polo Magazine P.O. Box 332 Montmorenci, SC 29839 aikenpolo.org aikenpolomagazine@gmail.com Advertising Inquiries: Susie Kneece SKneece@bellsouth.net 803-646-3302 On The Cover: Dunbar Bostwick playing for the Aiken Knights, 1935 Photo courtesy of Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame

www.visitaikensc.com


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Letter from the President

Welcome to our 2019 season, the 138th renewal of polo on historic Whitney Field. This year we are excited to welcome Tiger Kneece as our new full time manager. Tiger has been running a very successful junior program here for the past few years. Now many of the young players he started are participating in tournaments and have become an important part of our membership. Our regular practices and matches have been revitalized with fresh energy and it is great to see so many young people participating in the sport. Our junior members are promising players with good sportsmanship and a solid grasp of the game, and they are challenging our older members to stay sharp and quick. I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people who have worked hard to make polo a success here in Aiken. This includes Tiger, of course, as well as his wife Susie Kneece who is our marketing director and righthand person. Thanks also to Pat Nicholson, who maintains our fields, and to his crews that help keep them in top condition throughout the tournament season. Thanks also to everyone who helps at the matches and Sunday games, and of course to the players and their horses and support staffs that have kept polo alive here in Aiken since 1882. We are looking forward to an active season of polo, including twelve tournaments, three practices a week and double-header games every Sunday at 3 p.m. Whether you are a player, a polo fan, or a first time visitor, we hope that you will join us to enjoy polo in Aiken. 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 www.aikenpolo.org. For daily updates call the hotline: 803-643-3611. Find us in Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too.

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Aiken Polo Club 2019


LAZYRFARM.COM

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Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Spring Schedule Dogwood Cup 2 Goal

April 12-21  

USPA NYTS

April 26-28

Jake Kneece Memorial 4 Goal

April 18-28

USPA Sportsmanship Cup 6 Goal

May 1-12

USPA Congressional Cup 4 Goal

May 15- 26

USPA Museum Cup 2 Goal

May 30- June 9

Fall Schedule Alan Corey Cup 4 Goal

Sept. 18- 29

USPA Governors Cup 6 Goal

Oct. 2-13

Aiken Womens’ Tournament

Oct. 1-6

A Flight 10-14 Goals B Flight  4-8 Goals USPA Officers Cup 6 Goal

Oct. 11-Oct. 20

USPA Players Cup 4 Goal

Oct. 24- Nov. 3

USPA Aiken Fall Cup 2 Goal

Nov. 1-10

Information Line: 803-643-3611 Manager, Tiger Kneece: 803-646-3301

Ian Campbell 12

Aiken Polo Club 2019


Banks Hall Inn lodgIng & gracIous HospItalIty In aIken convenIent to polo, golf, Hunt & sHows

Take a step Back from the frenzy of everyday life Enjoy hearty breakfasts, afternoon spirits and congenial conversation on the front porch. Where ENGLISH COUNTRY meets SOUTHERN CHARM. A little ECCENTRIC... Always UNIQUE. Each Room is “One of a Kind” and we only have a few! I invite you to experience the unique hospitality of Banks Hall. Marianne Yost

owner - Innkeeper

Call for Rates

& Reservations

w w w. a I k e n I n n . c o m

| 410-924-1790

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Accommodations

Aiken

Guide

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 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

www.visitaikensc.com 14

Aiken Polo Club 2019

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


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

BED & BREAKFAST

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

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

Banks Hall 1323 Banks Mill Road Aiken, SC 410-924-1790

The Crowne Plaza 1060 Center Street North Augusta, SC 803-349-8400 TownePlace Suites 1008 Monterey Drive (803) 641-7373

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an introduction to

Polo

Let others play at other things, the king of sports is the sport of kings. ~Ancient Persian Inscription

T

ake eight players, two umpires, ten horses, a vast green field and a little white ball, and you are well on your way to having a chukker of polo. Of course, at a polo game, every player has several more horses back at the trailer, since each game is four to six chukkers long, and horses usually play just one chukker. The players probably have a groom or two at the trailer as well, along with a truckload of saddles, bridles, leg wraps and extra mallets. There are also goal judges at each end of the field to signal whether or not a goal has been scored and to place a ball on the endline if a ball is hit out. Then, there is someone to put the numbers up on the scoreboard, an official on the sidelines to keep time and blow the horn when the chukker is over, an official scorekeeper and the all-important “third man” or referee, who settles disputes between the umpires. Polo is as much a production as it is a sport, and polo players never travel light.

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For the player, however, the thrill of the game more than makes up for the huge investment of time and resources it demands. Polo, it has often been said, is not just a game, but a way of life. Once a person is bitten by the polo bug, all of the production surrounding the game fades to insignificance. The only thing that is important is the action on the field and the horses back at the trailer. Polo is all-consuming.

The Team Each polo team is composed of four mounted players. Players must carry their mallets in their right hands, whether or not they are right-handed. (The United States Polo Association Rule Book – the “Blue Book” – used to make an exception for players registered as left-handers with the USPA before January 1, 1974. But there are none of these players left!) The first object of the game is to drive the ball down the field and into


Matt Sekera faces oncoming traffic the opposition’s goal. The second object is to prevent members of the other team from hitting the ball into the goal that one is defending. Each of the four players on the team wears a jersey numbered 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 in order to score. The Number 2 is also an offensive player, but he must be more aggressive, breaking up the offensive plays of the other team, and putting “his nose in every play and continually forcing the attack,” according to historic polo legend Tommy Hitchcock. 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.

Handicaps Like golfers, polo players carry handicaps. The handicap is expressed as a number of goals. This number reflects the player’s overall ability on the field, taking into account hitting ability, game sense, team play, horsemanship, sportsmanship and quality of horses. Handicaps run from -2 (beginner) up to 10 (the best

Harry Caldwell and Malia Bryan in the world.) A “goal” is how many goals a player is theoretically worth to his or her team, but has nothing to do with how many he or she might actually score in a game. Players are assessed and assigned handicaps in the spring and the fall. To arrive at a team handicap, one adds up the individual handicaps of the four players on the team. Three ones and a four, for instance, would make a seven-goal team. This team could play in an 8-goal tournament. If they were playing against an eight-goal team, they would start the game with one goal on the scoreboard. Tournaments are classified by how many goals they are. Aiken Polo, for instance, runs the 6-goal USPA Governor’s Cup tournament in the fall; no team may be rated more than 6 goals. The handicapping system keeps teams that play against each other relatively even and allows players of different abilities to compete on the same field. Men and women are rated on the same scale and regularly play with and against one another on an equal basis. There are also separate women’s ratings, used only in women’s tournaments. Handicapping also gives rise to the unique “pro-am” aspect of polo. There is very little purely professional polo in the United States. The most usual situation is to have amateurs pay higher rated professionals to play with them in tournaments, thus raising the level of the game.

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The Field

A regulation polo field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide. Many polo fields are equipped with side boards, which help to keep the ball from going out of bounds. Although play stops when the ball crosses the boards, horses and players regularly jump them and keep on playing, which is why polo fields are marked with a run-off area or safety zone. Spectators must take care not to park their cars or let their children or pets play in this space. Fields in the American South are planted with a special variety of Bermuda grass that forms a dense, smooth sod. Fields must be mowed frequently. They also are watered, fertilized, limed, aerated and rolled. Serious field maintenance requires a professional crew, but spectators can do their part. At half time and after the last chukker of every game, everyone present is invited to come out and help replace divots kicked up during the action. This keeps the ball rolling straight and makes the play faster and more fun to play and to watch. Everyone does divots, even the Queen of England.

The Play

A polo game is divided into six periods, called chukkers. The word “chukker” sometimes spelled “chukka” is derived from the Sanskrit word referring the turn of a wheel, which was the way chukkers were once timed. Each chukker consists of seven and a half minutes of playing time. The clock is stopped for foul shots, but keeps running after a goal is scored or if the ball goes out of bounds. The play begins with a line-up at the center of the field. The umpire bowls the ball between the two teams, and each fights to gain possession. Most of the rules in polo are based on the concept of the “line-of-the-ball.” The line of the ball is an imaginary line that the ball creates when it is hit. Generally speaking, players must not cross this line if there are players behind them who are “on the line” and therefore have 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 is not allowed to hit it at all. A goal is scored when the ball passes between the goal posts at any height. When this happens, the players return to the center of the field for another line-up and bowl-in. After every goal, the teams switch directions. This equalizes field conditions, but can be a bit confusing to novice spectators, who may not understand why the team they were cheering for suddenly seems to be going the wrong way and shooting at the wrong goal. If the ball does not pass through the goal posts but merely goes over the endline, the defending team gets a free hit, or “knock-in” from the point where the ball went out.

Above: Liv Berube Below: Brien Limehouse and Alejandro Alvarez Right: Sig Polo. Hope Arellano, Summer Kneece, Chilo Cordova, Lucas Arellano

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Defensive play in polo consists mostly of “hooking” and of “riding off.” A player may use his mallet to hook or strike an opponent’s mallet while the opponent is in the act of hitting the ball. A players may reach across their own horses, but may not extend their mallets in front of, over, under, or behind their opponents’ mounts. They also may not hook their opponent’s mallet when it is above the level of the shoulder, nor may they strike it with undue force.


Players may use their horses to “ride off ” their opponents in order to push the opponents away from the ball or otherwise spoil their shots. Polo is a contact sport, and horses and players often bump each other quite hard in the heat of the action. However, it is a foul to bump at a steep angle or to do anything that endangers the other players or their mounts. If any player infringes on the rules, the umpires blow their whistles for a foul. The team fouled then gets a penalty shot or a free hit. Depending on the severity of the foul and where is occurs, the ball may be hit from the point of the infraction or moved down the field closer to the fouling team’s goal. Polo being a “gentleman’s game,” it is a foul to appeal for a foul. It is also a foul to argue with the umpires. Umpires may call a technical foul on players exhibiting unsportsmanlike behavior. They do this by pulling a red handkerchief from their back pockets.

of a player’s worth. An exceptional string of horses can make the difference between a good and a great player. Conversely, a player mounted on a slow, sluggish, unwilling or unmanageable horse can be quite useless to the team. After all, you can’t hit the ball if you can’t get to it. Since each game is four to six chukkers long and a horse may play in one or possibly two chukkers, every player normally comes to the field with a string of three to six horses, though some players come with a spare or two. Not surprisingly, building, conditioning and maintaining a good string is one of the primary preoccupations of players at every level. Everyone wants faster, handier, quicker, easier ponies. Top horses are hard to come by, and it is rare for a player to have an entire string of great horses all at the same time.

The Life

The animals used in polo are called ponies, but they are not really ponies at all. In America, most are Thoroughbreds, and many began their careers as race horses. Others were bred specifically for polo, and still others were imported from Argentina, where polo-pony breeding and training is a big industry. Aiken has a growing reputation as a top place to breed, train and bring along young horses.

Polo was once the sport of kings, played only by the wealthy leisure classes. Today, although the sport certainly requires a significant investment of time and money, it is played by men and women from many different walks of life, from England’s Prince Harry to the local veterinarian, real estate agent, blacksmith or fence builder. Polo can be played on many different levels and by players of all ages and abilities. Polo professionals and serious amateurs may play polo full time and year-round. More casual players might play on the weekends, or on occasional evenings after work.

Polo ponies generally stand between 15 and 16 hands at the withers (a hand is four inches.) They are trained to stop and turn quickly, to boldly face oncoming horses, to tolerate flying mallets and balls, to ride-off, bump, and run like the wind when asked. Players say the horse makes up 60, 70 or even 80 percent

Whatever their level of commitment, all polo players share in the special world of polo; a world with its own language, its own worries and its own set of celebrities. They are united by a shared passion for horses, a shared commitment to the sport, and a shared connection to the traditions of the past.

The Horses

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Tournaments 2018 Spring

Malia Bryan shoots on goal.

Photo by Pam Gleason


Dogwood Cup 2 Goal: Lauburu: Alejandro Alvarez, Eduardo Perez, Justin Pimsner, Lou Berizzi. With Peter Christensen of Taylor BMW

Jake Kneece Memorial 4-Goal: Sig Polo: Mandeep Singh, Hope Arellano, Chilo Cordova, Lucas

Arellano. With Barbara, Pace and Lindsay Kneece.

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National Youth Tournament (NYTS) Aiken Qualifier A Flight Winners: Isinya: Harry Caldwell, Gracie Brown, Ian Campbell, Hope Arellano.

B Flight Winners: Enviroscape: Virginia Gwinn, Brianna Jordan, Winston Painter, Jacob Wallace

C Flight Participants: Chance Miller, Catelyn Godey, Maddie Godard, Brayden Foster, Lazaro Gorosito, Ramon Caro

National Youth Tournament Players

Photo by Larry Johnson

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USPA Sportsmanship Cup: Field One: Stacie Simpkins, Derek Berg, Alejandro Alvarez, Horacio Onetto

Polo Museum Cup: South Creek Farm: Antonio Campos, Chilo Cordova, Bratt Humphrey and Rich

Burkez. With Peter Christensen from Taylor BMW and Brenda Lynn and George DuPont from the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame.

Photo by Pam Gleason

Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Tournaments 2018 Fall

Omar Cepeda powers down the field. 24

Aiken Polo Club 2019

Photo by Pam Gleason


Alan Corey Memorial: Trapeze: Luis Carrion, Alejandro Alvarez, Connor Deal, Dennis Freeland

USPA Player’s Cup Trapeze: Jim Deal, Connor Deal, Alejandro Alvarez, Luis Carrion.

USPA Governor’s Cup: Sig Polo: Willie Hartnett, Lucas Arellano, Hope Arellano, Mandeep Singh.

Fall 2-Goal: Estrella Equine: Horacio Onetto, Aiden

Meeker, Gracie Brown, Josh Escapite.

USPA Governor’s Cup MVP: Hope Arellano

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Aiken Ladies’ Invitational

Reagan Leitner rides off Malia Bryan. 26

Aiken Polo Club 2019

Photo by Pam Gleason


Ladies A: MidState Roofing: Kylie Sheehan, Hope Arellano, Robyn Leitner, Reagan Leitner.

Ladies B: Aiken Youth Polo: Gracie Brown, Malia Bryan, Anna Hale, Summer Kneece.

Anna Hale shoots on goal.

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Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Robyn Leitner on the ball Below: Brien Limehouse goes for goal; Mandeep Singh waits for a pass

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Larry Johnson Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Theresa King on the nearside with Maria Cepeda in pursuit. Below: Rich Burkez; Savannah McFarland and Anna Hale vie for the ball

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Larry Johnson

Above: Aiden Meeker; Below: Gary Knoll

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Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Pam Gleason in the rain Below: Will Donahey on a breakaway; Chris Zhang

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Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Lucas Arellano; Amy Flowers rides off Derek Berg Below: Dan McCarthy gets ahead of the crowd

Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Luis Galvan wins the play Below: Hugh Worsham; Hope Arellano

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Aiken Polo Club 2019

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TI GE R K N E E C E Aiken Polo Manager By Pam Gleason

Tiger Kneece is the new manager of Aiken Polo Club this year but he is far from new to Aiken Polo. In fact, Tiger, whose family has lived in the city for generations, has been involved with the club since he was 8 or 9 years old.

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“My whole family rode horses and we foxhunted together as a family,” says Tiger. “My older sister, Courtney, did the hunters and jumpers, but when I went to a horse show at about 8, I knew that it wasn’t for me.” At about this time, Aiken Polo Club was looking for new players and had started inviting members of the equestrian community to give the sport a try. Tiger had his first stick and ball session on Aiken’s Winthrop Field. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” he says. “I came off the field and I said Now that was fun! I like that.” Tiger was one of a number of young people who were recruited for polo at Aiken. Before long, he was on a travelling team of teenagers who played in Aiken, Camden, Columbia and Charleston, where there were other young players of about the same age and skill level. When Tiger was 15, he started riding with Jimmy Bachman, a legendary 7 goal player who used to come to Aiken for the season. That summer, Tiger took a job with Jimmy, traveling to clubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard. He continued to work for Jimmy every summer until he graduated from high school, at which point he joined the Bachman operation full-time.

“It was a lot of fun. We all played together and we supported each other.” After a three year apprenticeship, during which he had ample opportunity to ride, play and learn how to be a professional, Tiger struck out on his own. He was now 5 goals, and he had six polo ponies and his own truck and trailer – the deal that he had with Jimmy was that he never got paid, but when it was time for him to go into business for himself, Jimmy would give him a string and a rig. Thus equipped, he took his first solo job in Montreal and then went to play in Florida for the winter. It was not long before he hit the big time. Rising to 7 goals, he played in all the major tournaments offered by the United States Polo Association, winning such prestigious contests as the Gold Cup, the Silver Cup, the East Coast Open and the US Open. In 1994, the year he won the Open with the Aspen polo team, he was named Young Player of the Year by Polo Magazine. Tiger had met and married his wife Susie in Florida. In the early 2000s, his sponsor at the time was getting out of polo, and Tiger and Susie decided to relocate back to Aiken. The Aiken polo scene was growing rapidly, and the city offered a more congenial place to raise a family. Tiger continued to play professionally for a long time, in Aiken, Florida and in Wyoming, where the family went most summers. While out in Wyoming, he and Susie started a popular and successful junior polo program. Four years ago, they started a similar youth program in Aiken. Tiger had gradually eased out of professional play, and says that he might have gotten out of polo altogether, if it weren’t for the fact that his daughter Summer had gotten bitten by the polo bug. Now 13, Summer started playing in Wyoming when she was very young, and her enthusiasm for the sport has kept the family very much in it. Before long, Tiger was coaching Aiken Youth Polo, as well as Aiken’s Interscholastic and Intercollegiate polo teams. He took over as manager of Aiken Polo Club on January 1, 2019.

The Young Aiken Team 1985: David Widener, Tommy Biddle, Devane Batchelor, Tiger Kneece

“We’re really excited about it,” he says, adding that one of his primary goals is to revitalize club polo, bring back regular practices and make Aiken a fun place to play. “Aiken Polo Club isn’t just a place to have tournaments,” he continues. “It’s a 501c3 not for profit charity. Our fields are in trust to preserve them for polo. We’re in it for the long haul. We’re promoting youth polo, club polo, a polo school, everything we need to make sure that polo survives and grows in Aiken. We are here to ensure that there is a club and fields in Aiken and people playing polo on them for the next 100 years.”

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Under New Ownership

BANKS MILL FEEDS

Thank You! Banks Mill manufactures our feeds to have your horse looking great, feeling good, and being manageable. Striving for the highest quality feeds. Offering high fat low starch grain feeds or pelleted feeds. Our formulas are fixed with the best quality grains and all feeds are made specifically for you and your horse. It would be our pleasure to assist you in determining a custom blended feed that suits you and your horses needs. To our valued customers and business partners, thanks for your loyalty and inspiration.

803.641.0007 | www.BanksMillFeeds.com | BanksMillFeeds@aol.com | Join Us on Facebook and Instagram

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Aiken Polo Club 2019


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Aiken Polo Club 2019


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Gear of the Game The Helmet is required equipment. The most

common helmets are made of reinforced, padded plastic with a cloth or leather covering. They are modeled after the pith helmets that the British wore in 19th century India. Modern helmets are designed to fend off flying balls and mallets and to protect the head if the player should fall.

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 Tail is normally braided

and tied so that is does not get in the way of the swing. Manes are shaved so they do not become entangled in the player’s fingers.

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.

The Bit

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

Draw Reins run from the bit back to the saddle and help the player to steady and balance the horse.

Leg Wraps & Boots provide support to tendons and ligaments as well as protection from balls and mallets.

Polo plates are special, lightweight horse shoes. Made of iron, they

have an inner rim and an outer rim. The inner rim is slightly higher than the outer one, making it easier for the hoof to pivot in all directions.

Pictured above: Derek Berg 44 42

Aiken Polo Club 2019 2018


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Aiken Polo Club 2019


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Gary Knoll Photography Pam Gleason

Above: Craig Fraser rides off Alejandro Alvarez; Chilo Cordova makes the shot Below: Barry Limehouse; Alejandro Alvarez tries to ride off Luis Galvan

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Larry Johnson Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Cristina Fernandez Below:Brad Limehouse

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Growing the Future By Sarah Eakin

Aiken Youth Polo, a program run by Tiger Kneece and his wife Susie, has successfully introduced polo to young players from many different backgrounds. Polo can be a sport that is difficult to break into, especially for young people who have no family connections to the game. But Aiken Youth Polo (AYP) provides not just an introduction, but a real entry into the game.

of the game that is used for official United States Polo Association interscholastic and intercollegiate tournaments. Last fall, AYP got its own dedicated arena at New Bridge Polo and Country Club. This arena provided the interscholastic team a place to practice, and was also used by the new University of South Carolina Aiken intercollegiate men’s team, which Tiger coached.

For instance, Michael Bradford, 14, a student at South Aiken High School, came into polo from a nonpolo background. But through the help of Tiger and the Aiken polo community he is already eyeing the future from a professional stance.

“We are always looking for new players,” said Tiger. “We are also always looking out for volunteers and donations.”

“We are not from a horse family or a polo family,” said his father Lain Bradford, “But the youth program in Aiken was really accommodating. Michael is completely hooked and spends his time before games watching videos to study professional players.” AYP offers both outdoor and arena polo. Arena polo, played in an arena enclosed by wooden boards and using an inflatable ball, is the variation 50

Top: NYTS Tournament action Bottom: Tiger Kneece, Robyn and Reagan Leitner, Summer Kneece, Anna Hale and Virginia Gwinn

Aiken Polo Club 2019

“We were asked by some polo families that were going to be in Aiken to take it on,” said Tiger of the USC team. “And we do what we always do when we are asked to help with young people in polo: We said ‘yes’”. This year’s men’s team consisted of USC Aiken freshmen Harry and Charlie Caldwell and Jim Deal. The team set the bar high over the winter season with significant victories against established collegiate polo teams such as the Universities of Kentucky and Virginia. The final goal on the horizon is the establishment of a USC Aiken women’s team, which may or may not materialize next season, “But if it doesn’t


happen this year, it will definitely happen next,” Tiger said. He is counting on having enough of his current high school age players in college in a few years. Anna Hale, currently a Mead Hall student and member of Aiken Women’s Interscholastic team, could be a potential candidate. Her mother Angela says she has yet to narrow down her college choices, so she may go somewhere else. Anna earned her spurs playing on the open interscholastic team as well as on the women interscholastic team, putting up a good fight against some of the national big hitters. All the Aiken teams made it to the regionals this year, but none advanced to the nationals. “It was very inspiring,” said Angela Hale. “The more established teams have it down to a science and spend a lot of time in the arena. Our girls now know what they have to do.”

Aiden Meeker in the arena Michael Bradford backs the ball; Madison Jordan defends

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Clearly, there is talent and enthusiasm among the 25 core players of the Aiken Youth Polo program. But Tiger, who spends time reaching out to high school students with an interest in horses and a potential passion for polo, has ambitions to grow the program even more. “We are always looking for new players,” said Tiger. “We are also always looking out for volunteers and donations.” For young players especially, having a family connection to the sport makes learning the game easier. Anna Hale had a slight head start because her father had taken it up some years ago. She shares ponies and a barn with him. “We were exposed to polo, but not nearly on the level we are now,” Angela said. “There are players like Josh Escapite [whose father Cuko is a professional player] and Summer Kneece, [Tiger’s daughter] who come from polo playing families. There are those of us who have some connection with the sport – and then there are others who have no background in polo but are able to start playing from scratch.” Even though AYP has limited funding, Tiger says that they supply enough equipment for players to get started, rather than requiring them to make a big investment in gear right away. “That’s the way we’ve kind of structured our polo,” Tiger said. “We offer a mechanism for kids and their families to get into polo without spending a fortune.” Tiger’s mantra is that “anyone can come and join us” and Michael Bradford is testament to this approach. Starting out as a complete polo novice, through donations, he has now acquired his own string of six horses, equipment, and a partially donated trailer, all gifts from the polo community. “The support has at times been overwhelming,” Michael’s father Lain Bradford said. Follow Aiken Youth Polo on Facebook. Interested in joining? Contact Tiger Kneece: 803-646-3301.

Top: Tiger Kneece instructs; Middle: Women’s Interscholastic Team; Bottom: Maddie Godard in the NYTS tournament 52

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Gary Knoll Photography Larry Johnson

Above: Josh Escapite; Below: Mason Sease

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Aiken Polo History By Pam Gleason

Aiken’s Whitney Field had its first official polo game in 1882. In that year, Chester Arthur was the President of the United States. Electricity was a new and exciting source of power, and electric lights were just beginning to replace oil lamps in major cities. Automobiles were essentially unheard of and powered flight in airplanes was just a dream. The best way to get around was by train and by horse-drawn carriage. Fashionable women’s clothing included restrictive corsets and skirts with bustles. Men wore tight fitting frock coats and grew many types of beards, mustaches and sideburns. By 1882, Aiken was famous as a health resort and a vacation spot. Not only did it attract seasonal visitors from the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia, it also brought in hundreds of winter travelers from the North who established a “Winter Colony” in the city. They would come down on the train in November, pursue outdoor activities with a vengeance until April, then pack up and migrate home. Tourists came from Boston, Chicago, and especially New York. Horse sports were particularly in vogue. The sport of polo had been introduced to New York society in 1876, and it caught on quickly. In the spring of 1882, Captain Clarence Southerland Wallace, a New Yorker and an

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executive in the Havemeyer Sugar Company 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. “Gay parties of ladies and gentlemen mounted on prancing steeds dashed over the countryside enjoying the delightful surroundings . . . . Sumptuous luncheons were served. . .The crack military company the Aiken Palmetto Rifles, entertained with dress parades, but all this paled in significance before the brilliant and successful introduction of James Gordon Bennett’s popular national game, polo. It has caused a great sensation and revolutionized the city as far as amusements are concerned.” Not much is known about the very earliest years of polo in the city, but by the 1890s, it was a well-established and popular pastime. Local historians often credit the development of polo in the city to the Hitchcock family, who summered on Long Island and wintered in Aiken. Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. was one of the first 10-goalers in America and a member of America’s first international polo squad. His wife, Louise Hitchcock, known as Lulie, played as well, encouraged others to take up the sport and organized and coached fast and furious junior games of


both horse and bicycle polo. Many young players nurtured in Mrs. Hitchcock’s junior programs went on to become the premier players in America in the 1920s and 30s. The Hitchcocks’ son, Tommy Hitchcock, a 10-goal international superstar, was the most famous player in America before World War II. Today, his name is synonymous with polo greatness. He was also a friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and is said to have been the inspiration behind the character Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, Aiken was the acknowledged polo center of the South. Great numbers of high-ranked players came to spend the winter, competing daily on the 16 fields the city offered. The horse trainer Fred Post arrived in Aiken in the early 1910s and soon had as many as 100 horses in training, along with a stable of young players to work them. Polo dominated the Aiken sports scene, and poloists who practiced in Aiken went on to represent the United States in numerous international matches. Famous players included the Hitchcocks, the Bostwicks, the Gerrys, the Posts, the Knoxes, the von Stades, the Igleharts, Alan Corey Jr., Harry Payne Whitney, Jimmy Mills, Russell Grace, Jules Rompf, Devereux Milburn and Louis E. Stoddard. It was the Golden Age of American polo, and Aiken was at the center of it all.

Above: Tommy & Thomas Hitchcock; Below: William Ziegler, Allan Case, F.S. von Stade. Left 1932: Reenactment of Aiken’s first game, 1882.

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World War II dealt a severe blow to polo everywhere. During the conflict, Aiken’s women’s teams held occasional charity matches to raise money for war bonds. After the war, regular polo resumed on Aiken’s fields under the auspices of the Knox, Bostwick and Corey families. Society was changing, however, and as the years passed, polo in America was in decline. Many of the illustrious players from before the war retired or died, and fewer members of the next generations stayed with polo. Across the country, old clubs were falling to development. Aiken still had Whitney Field and the complex of fields on Powder House Road. A group of families upheld Aiken’s polo tradition, but it was only a shadow of what it had been in earlier years. Beginning in the mid-1970s, polo was coming back across America, and the revival was particularly vibrant in Aiken. Players from other parts of the country moved to the city, joining the descendants of players from the Golden Age and encouraging others to take up the sport. By 1982, the Centennial year of polo in Aiken, the club was on the upswing. Tom Biddle, David Widener and Gene Kneece, wanting to play with their sons, helped develop youth programs on Aiken’s historic fields. Aiken Polo Club invited horsemen from other disciplines to give polo a try. Players and playing opportunities multiplied.

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In the 1990s Owen Rinehart and Adam Snow, two of America’s best players, bought property outside town and established the Langdon Road Club to hold medium and high goal matches. Then Russ McCall and Matias Magrini established the New Bridge Polo and Country Club, bringing with them more high goal polo. More and more players moved to Aiken, buying up old cotton fields, forests and farms, putting in first class tournament and practice fields. Other clubs sprouted around the county, offering tournaments at all levels. Today, Aiken has an international reputation as a place to play, as well as a place to breed and train polo ponies. Players come to Aiken for the spring season on their way north from Florida, or for the fall season on their way south from points north and west. A growing number of players stay and play year round; Aiken has both summer and winter polo, as well as several arenas that hold matches. The polo community here is still growing and more polo players are buying property in the area every year. With its distinguished history and its current popularity, Aiken Polo’s future is bright, and Whitney Field, the oldest polo field in continuous use in the United States, promises to hold its place as the focal point of Aiken’s Sunday afternoons for many years to come.


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What Makes Polo

Unique By Adam Snow

The roots of the polo are both ancient and martial. According to the Polo Museum and Hall of Fame in Florida polo’s origins are “older than recorded history,” and derive from “mounted nomads in Central Asia who played a version – part sport, part training for war.” There are other sports that carry one or the other of these characteristics, but none that combine all of them. Lacrosse, whose Algonquin founders referred to the tribal competition as the “little brother of war,” represented its own form of cross-training for battle. Popular equestrian sports today –eventing, cutting, and racing – share the partnership and high level of trust between horse and rider. But polo’s essence – and what makes it truly unique – is the game’s multiple layers of teamwork. Consider that preparation for a match involves not only strategies for the four human teammates, but ones for effective partnerships with each of the individual horses that any team member will play. I usually play 8 or 9 horses in a match, which means there’s a lot to think about, a lot of different teams to coordinate before each and every match. And you want everything just right. My wife, Shelley, a veterinarian who has committed herself to the preparation and maintenance of equine athletes, put it better than I could in our book Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen

Imagine preparing not only yourself, but readying eight other sentient athletes as well. And they can’t tell you if they need more work, a spell of rest in the pasture, or where they might feel soreness. Yet preparing them to play their best – getting the feed and exercise right, the injuries diagnosed and healed, settling on the tack and bit selections so that both horse and rider feel comfortable – is easily as important as the human player’s preparation. Here is where the game gets complicated.

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Two additional features distinguish polo from most, if not all, other sports: teams do not stay together for very long, and the professional version is primarily a pro-am model. Both factors are related to the sport’s system of handicapping individual players, and defining tournaments by the maximum limit for team handicaps. The scale for individual handicaps ranges from -2 to 10, and can be thought of as an estimate of that player’s value. Like golf but in reverse, with the highest polo handicap (10) representing the most proficiency. The word goal is used interchangeably with handicap and has at least a loose association with that player’s worth in terms of net goals – their combined offensive and defensive production, over the duration of an average match. Handicaps are reassessed regularly by a national committee comprised of current and retired players who observe and vote on registered players. One’s handicap may go up, down or remain the same, according to recent successes or lack thereof. And a player’s handicap may even vary by country. At one stage in my career, I held three different handicaps for the UK, US, and Argentina, in descending order. A “team handicap” is simply the sum of the four teammates handicaps, which can add up to but not surpass, the upper limit of a specific tournament. In and around Aiken today, one can find tournament polo at the 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12-goal levels. When an 8-goal team squares off against a team with a total handicap of 7, the latter starts the game with one goal on the scoreboard. In Florida this past winter, a spectator could observe tournaments at the 20, 22 and 26-goal levels. The higher up you go, the smaller the pool of qualified players and horses from which to choose, and the greater the expenses related to putting a competitive team on the field.

The pro-am nature of the sport means that the team sponsor (variously called an amateur, player-owner, or patron) participates as a playing member of his or her squad. Although corporate sponsorship, as well as purse prizes for certain tournaments, are gradually becoming more common, the game continues to be predominantly financed by amateurs who love the thrill of competing in this dynamic team sport. Because every individual handicap reflects a relative ability, if someone is performing well for their handicap (regardless of whether they are 0 or 10, amateur or professional) then they are an asset to their team. This is the intended “leveler” between teams entering the same tournament, and is also what allows players of varying skills to participate together on the same playing field. There’s another critical component to the polo team, and these are the grooms, the caretakers responsible for the day-to-day feed, exercise, and maintenance of a tournament string. Just as the horse is crucial to the player’s ability to perform, so too is the groom’s care fundamental to the comfort and preparedness of these ponies. Let’s face it, the best team tactics and most skilled ball-handling ability of a player are worthless if he or she can’t get to the play. With all the team members involved, the line between reward and frustration can sometimes feel exceedingly narrow. But the rewards, as well as the challenges, are great. Get it right – the preparation, the horses, the larger “team” – and there’s no other sport like it. Adam Snow is professional polo player who attained and held a 10-goal rating while playing in the top polo contests in the world. A member of the United States Polo Association Hall of Fame, he lives in Aiken with his wife Shelley Onderdonk and their family. He and Shelley are authors of the book Polo Life; Horses, Sport 10 and Zen. Find out more at Pololife.co.

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Pam Gleason Larry Johnson

Left: Harry Caldwell rides off Summer Kneece; Above: Frank Mullins; Below: Rose Sease

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Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Stacie Simpkins; Edouard des Francs Below: Kathy Rhoad

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Gary Knoll Photography

Larry Johnson

Above: Maria Cepeda; Geoff Cameron ahead of Antonio Campos Below: Luis Carrion ahead of Derek Berg; Rick Lontin

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Larry Johnson Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Summer Kneece Below: Pedro Lara; James Gadea

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Pam Gleason Gary Knoll Photography

Above: Marcos Onetto; Harry Caldwell and Meghan Okerlund Below: Maria Cepeda rides off Anna Hale

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Pam Gleason

Above: Gracie Brown; Matt Sekera Below: Charlie Caldwell takes a backshot; Antonio Campos

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R emembering Gerald Balding Hall of Fame Player Gerald Balding was one of the best polo players in the world in the 1920s and 1930s. Rated at 9 goals in America and at 10 in his native England, during the winters he was a regular on Aiken’s polo fields, where he trained and practiced for the country’s most prestigious matches and tournaments.

G

erald Balding was born in Leicestershire, England in 1903. Polo was his passion. He took up the sport at the age of 14 and he was a natural rider and a skilled hitter. In 1926, Robert Strawbridge, then the president of the United States Polo Association, saw him playing in England and invited him to come to America

to “train our boys how to play the game.” He accepted the offer, and went first to New Jersey, where he became a polo instructor at the Rumson Polo Club, and later became a fixture on Long Island. He played on many top teams, including Laddie Sanford’s Hurricanes – they won the Hurlingham Cup in 1930. Then he was tapped by

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John Hay Whitney ( Jock) to play on the Greentree polo team, along with Whitney, Tommy Hitchcock and Pete Bostwick. Tommy (10 goals) and Pete (8 goals) were mainstays of Aiken Polo Club who often represented the U.S. in international matches. With Balding playing, Greentree won the U.S. Open and the Monty Waterbury Cup twice. Still a British citizen, Balding played for his home country in the Westchester Cup, which pitted England against America, in 1930, 1936 and 1939 (in each case, America was the winner.) In 1936, the United States Polo Association had decided that the winner of the Open would represent the U.S. in the Cup of the America’s

against Argentina. Greentree won the Open that year, which meant that Balding ended up playing for America, despite the fact that he had played against America on the British team in the Westchester Cup a few months earlier. (Argentina won that match, with the same team that had won the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, beating Great Britain by 11-0 in the final game.) When World War II broke out, Balding returned to England to serve as a captain in the Royal Horse Guards. After the war, he remained in his native country where he trained racehorses for John Hay Whitney and for the stables of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt and Joseph Roebling.

Gerald Balding was the last player to be rated 10 goals in England. According to his obituary in the New York Times in 1957, “In polo competition before World War II Mr. Balding ranked second only to Thomas Hitchcock Jr.” According to his daughter, Gail King, who lives in Aiken, what really set him apart was his horsemanship. “He was a consummate horseman,” she said. “Tommy Hitchcock was regarded as a better player, but my father was known for his horsemanship. He was a beautiful rider.” Gerald Balding was inducted into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame in February 2019.

Below: Greentree: Jock Whitney, Gerald Balding, Tommy Hitchcock, Pete Bostwick. Left: Balding vs. Cocie Rathborne and Balding vs. Ebby Gerry.

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Aiken Polo Club 2019

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Polo Glossary

Bump: A player may ride his horse into his opponent’s in order to spoil his shot or remove him from the play. The angle of the bump must be no greater than 45 degrees. 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. Chukker:

A period in polo is called a chukker, or sometimes a chukka. Each chukker lasts seven to seven and a half minutes and there are usually 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.

Divot: A loose piece of turf created by galloping hooves, or

by horses stopping and turning 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 his flag over his head. If no, he waves it down by his feet. Goal:

The purpose of polo is to score goals by hitting the ball through the goal posts. After each goal is scored, the teams switch directions and return to the center of the field for a throw-in. “Goal” is also a term for a handicap, as in “How many goals are you?” (See “Handicap”.)

Groom:

The person who cares for, tacks, untacks and washes the horses during the game. Many players have fulltime grooms whose jobs may also include caring for, training and exercising the player’s horses six or seven days a week, as well as driving the truck and trailer, cleaning the tack and even polishing the player’s boots and knee pads.

Handicap: Every player is assigned a handicap from C

(-2) to 10 goals. This handicap reflects the player’s theoretical

worth to his team and has nothing whatever to do with how many goals he 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 a 6-goal tournament, the teams have a maximum of six goals, for instance. If a 5-goal team plays against an 6-goal team, the 5-goal team will start the game with one goal, on handicap.

Hook: A player may hook or strike at his opponent’s mallet when the opponent is in the act of hitting at the ball. He may not reach over, under or across his 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. 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. 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, one tries not to cross the line of the ball, especially in front of someone who is on the line. Mallet: The polo stick. Since polo is not croquet

(fortunately!) 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.

Near Side: The left side of the horse. One normally handles the horse on his near side. A near side shot is one taken on the left side of the horse. All players carry their mallets in their right hands, 86

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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.

Sideboards: Low boards that help keep the ball from going out of bounds. These boards help keep the ball on the field and in play. Horses may (and do) jump over the boards regularly without interrupting the play.

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 a team scores, or at the seven-and-a-half minute mark. Tack-time: A time out that is called because one of the

players has a piece of broken equipment. Unless the player with the broken equipment is in imminent danger, tack-time is only called after the play has stopped for some other reason, such as a foul or a goal. The player is allowed to leave the field to repair or replace the broken item.

Tail shot: A back shot executed at an angle behind the horse. The opposite of a tail shot is a cut, or an open shot so to execute a near side shot, they must lean across the horse.

Off Side: The right side of the horse. The most common

shot in polo is an off side forehand, a forward shot.

Penalty One: a dangerous foul that takes place near the

goal, created when a defending player attempts to stop an attacker from scoring. In a Penalty One, the team fouled gets an automatic goal. The teams do not change ends, and the ball is thrown in at the 10 yard line.

Pony:

Although they are full-sized, full-grown horses,

polo mounts are called ponies. This term comes from the early modern history of polo when players really did ride ponies. Today, most are Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses.

Pony Goal: a goal that is scored by a pony kicking it in. Pony goals count just the same as goals scored by players.

Ride-off:

In a ride-off, a player encourages his horse to

lean into his opponent’s horse in order to keep his opponent from hitting the ball. 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

Technical: A penalty exacted against displays of poor sportsmanship.

Third Man: 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.

Throw-In: The way a ball is put into play in a neutral

situation, such as at the beginning of the game and after a goal has been scored. The umpire lines the two teams up facing him, and then bowls the ball between them. Each team fights for possession.

Stick and Ball: practicing polo by cantering around,

hitting the ball.

Shoot-Out: If the game is tied at the end of the game and the players do not want to play a sudden death overtime chukker, or have already played one, the winner can be determined by a shoot-out. In this case, each player on each team takes a turn hitting a 40-yard foul shot. When all four players on each team have hit, the team that has scored the most goals is declared the winner by one goal. If the teams are tied, then the players hit again in turn until one team comes out ahead.

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Index of Advertisers

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Advanced Endodontics

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Harvards

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Aiken County Farm Supply

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Huttson Etherredge

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Aiken Discount Tire

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Innovative Solutions

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Aiken Equine

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Ivy Cottage

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Aiken Pest Control

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Lazy R Farm

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Aiken Saddlery

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Lionel Smith

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Marketplace Paints

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Alicia Kough

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Marshall Sterling Insurance

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All Star Tents

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Mellow Mushroom

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APC Sponsors

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MidState Roofing

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Apollon Management

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Monetta Farrier

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Augusta Polo Cup

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Mr. Central

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Auto Tech

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Museum of Polo

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Banks Hall

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Nandina

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Banks Mill Feed

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Northington Hall

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Be Fly Free

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Oak Manor Saddlery

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Bee Healthy

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Polo Adventures

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Blanchard Equipment

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Prime Steakhouse

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Breeze Hill Plantation

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Ray Massey

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Carolina Eastern

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Rhett Sinclair

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Cato

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Ronnie’s Hitch

82

Charles Fliflet

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Shoemaker Irrigation

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Compass South RE

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Shoemaker Irrigation

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Cooper Home & Stable

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Sig Polo

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Cooper Motors

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Sullivan Turner RE

Crestview

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Taylor BMW

David Stinson RE

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The Aiken Horse

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Enviroscape

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The Tackeria

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Equine Divine

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The Willcox

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Fairfield Inn

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TownePlace Suites

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Floyd & Green

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USC Aiken

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Gravatt

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Walker & Co

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Greystone Inn

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Warner Grading

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Gypsy Belt

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Whiskey Alley

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Harrison K-9

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Katrina

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame

A Horse to Remember By Pam Gleason

K

atrina, a member of the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame, was one of the best high goal ponies that ever lived. A grey Thoroughbred mare standing 15.1 hands tall, she played in top tournaments for 12 years and competed in a total of 30 international matches. Sometimes she played one chukker; sometimes she played two, but whenever she was on the field, she was unmistakable for her speed, handiness and the extra prowess that she lent to her rider. Foaled in 1923, Katrina was bred as a racehorse and actually spent two years on the track in Argentina before she landed in the string of Charles N. Land (known by his nickname “Bunny.�) Land played her in Argentina for two years before selling her to the United States Polo Association. She played in her first international matches in the fall of 1930 under the U.S. team captain and Aiken winter resident Tommy Hitchcock, a 10-goaler and the most famous player of his time. After the 90

Aiken Polo Club 2019

international matches were over, it was customary for the horses that played for the association to be sold at auction. Katrina went for one of the highest prices, $10,000, to Mr. A.C. Schwarz, who subsequently sold her to Hitchcock. Tommy Hitchcock and Katrina were a famous pair, and whenever he was mounted on her, he was worth even more than his 10-goal handicap. One of Hitchcock’s favorite horses, Katrina also played for the 8-goaler Jimmy Mills (educated at Aiken Prep) in the East-West matches in 1934. Although polo ponies come in all different colors, the majority are conservatively colored bays, browns and chestnuts. Grey horses tend to be noticed and remembered, especially if they also stand out for their speed, brilliance and athleticism. Katrina had everything a player could look for in a mount, along with good health, soundness and impressive longevity, all wrapped up in her sleek grey coat.


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Aiken Polo Club 2019  

Aiken Polo Club annual magazine with articles, images, tournament results and more!

Aiken Polo Club 2019  

Aiken Polo Club annual magazine with articles, images, tournament results and more!