Polo Club offers surprising fun
By Dave Kensler
For those looking for a new and different family activity to try, the Poway Polo Club may be a good option.
“We have polo opportunities for adults, teenagers and kids,” said Sherry Sheldon Gibson, president, whose father, Russ Sheldon, founded the club. “Polo can be great family fun.”
Despite its aristocratic reputation, it is not necessary to own a horse or even to have been on one.
“If you know how to ride a horse you are ahead of the game. Then you just have to learn how to hit the ball and (learn) the rules,” Gibson said. “But we have plenty of people who contact us and have never even been on a horse, let alone ride one, and we teach them how to play polo.”
For that latter group of people, there are a number of horse providers who will rent their horses for use in polo. Some people choose to continue to rent even after they become more and more involved in the sport.
The beginning stages for novices, according to Gibson, involve learning how to saddle and bridle the horse, hitting the ball while standing on the ground just to know how that aspect of it feels, how to strike the ball from either side of the horse, scoring and all related rules.
“Most people think strike the ball with the end of the mallet like in croquet,” Gibson explained. “However, you strike it with the broad side of the mallet instead.”
Just as it is with about every other sport, there is equipment needed to participate effectively and safely. For polo, this involves a helmet, mallet, knee pads, boots and clothing.
“If you are riding around on a horse with mallets and a ball as part of the action, you want to make sure you have a quality helmet,” Gibson said. “Good boots are very important too, even though we are not standing on the ground, as you do not want your foot to slip through the stirrup.”
There are two types of polo played: in an arena and on a grass field. The Poway Polo Club is the former and it uses the same venue as the Poway Rodeo.
The club has around 40 members. According to Gibson, there have been four generations of Sheldon family members involved in polo in Poway.
She recommends a good starting point: just coming out to watch the sport. The club plays on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6 p.m., and on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. unless there is a scheduled event like the Poway Rodeo.
“We love to have people watch and we will be happy to explain everything and introduce the sport to you,” Gibson explained. “The thing with the Poway Polo Club is we are geared toward average people. Families with children. You do not have to be a millionaire to play this sport.”