There’s a certain mystique about the sport of polo that has always made me curious, especially since it’s played right here in Barrington. So I recently stopped by the Barrington Hills Polo Club’s Oakwood Farms field to check out a scrimmage, learn more about the sport and meet some local players. My husband, two kids and I pulled our car into the farm’s drive and right on up to the side of the field where the players’ families were parked and out picnicking. It was a regular Saturday morning scrimmage, it was a beautiful day and I was struck by how much these players seemed to love the open space, fresh air and the thrill of their fast-paced sport.
One of the greatest things about the Barrington Hills Polo Club is that…they offer a United States Polo Association sanctioned polo school. They welcome men, women and players from diverse backgrounds and all ages. People like Lake Barrington resident, Paul Heise, who played on the national champion polo team for The University of Miami in 1950 and returned to polo at age 73 after a fifty year absence. When I saw him play, he was highly skilled and aggressive and I hear he is one of the best polo players in Barrington.
At age 80, Paul says one of the things he loves most about the sport is the fact that it’s a constant motivator, “I always walk away thinking, gee, I could have done better, but I had a wonderful time.” He is a gentleman, a sportsman and just a really inspiring guy. “At my age, why, I know that I lose a little skill every year, but I’m never satisfied with how well or how poorly I play and so it’s one of those sports that, even as you get beyond your peak capacity, it’s still a challenge and still very enjoyable…It’s almost addictive.”
Another local player, Megan West, is a doctoral candidate and the Junior Varsity Polo coach at Purdue University. She doesn’t own any horses, but has become one of the most proficient players in the club, according to member John Rosene.
Megan will also be competing in this weekend’s Kalaway Landowners Cup. She says one of the things she loves most about polo is the bond you form with your horse. “They are very powerful animals and it’s a very special partnership that’s built on trust because you’re running at 35-miles-per-hour and you’re leaning over on one side or another and trying to hit a little white ball with a stick. As with any equestrian sport, you have to have trust in your horse.”
If you’re interested in learning to play polo, you can sign up for the club’s six week polo school which starts ever year in April. Club members donate their horses for the polo school, but they ask that you become a member of the club to be eligible for the free classes. A club membership costs $800 per year. If you want to watch these players in action, you’re invited to this weekend’s Kalaway Landowners Cup. It’s happening Saturday, September 11th, at the Oakwood Farms Polo Field at 250 Deepwood Road in Barrrington Hills. The price of admission for Saturday’s event is $15 per person and there’s no charge for young children. If you’d like to reserve a field side tailgate parking spot which includes tickets for six people, the price is $75. For more information or to reserve a space, call John Rosene at 847-854-1415 or visit BarringtonHillsPolo.com.