By Sophie Cyker
What exactly is the sport of polo? To find out, the Panel sat down with Libby Graham ’15 to discuss the sport that makes her unusual among her Winsor peers. Graham has been riding horses since the young age of four. Once she had mastered many of the skills of equestrianism, she found herself wanting more from riding. While “riding around a ring all day” was certainly exhilarating, she wanted to be part of a team. Ever since she was very young, Graham had always enjoyed going to the Newport polo matches with her family. On her thirteenth birthday, her mother signed her up for her first polo lesson, and since that day, she has known that polo was her sport.
Readers may know polo as a sport played on horseback, but most people do not know much about the sport itself. Graham described it as “field hockey on horses.” Not only are the motions similar to field hockey, but she explained that polo is also very much a team sport. Polo is a sport in which three players work together to score goals against the other team. Players score by driving a plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet. Being part of a team rather than participating in an individual sport is one of the main reasons for which Graham chose polo as her main sport over horseback riding, although a knowledge of horseback riding is definitely important in polo. When asked what her favorite part of polo is, Libby responded, without hesitation, that she loved that the sport involves a lot of “contact.” The players often collide on their horses while trying to score, so it is necessary to be able to control the horse, as well to keep control of the ball and the game. Polo also gives Graham the sense that she is really taking part in “an intense workout.”
Every Thursday for the past two years, Graham has commuted an hour to Portsmouth so that she can practice polo with the Glen Farm team. On weekends, she travels throughout the Northeast region to compete in tournaments. Because polo is a fairly uncommon sport, the Glen Farm team mainly plays collegiate teams, such as Cornell Uiversity. The indoor polo tournaments that Graham attends usually take around three hours, with three people from each team playing at once. Graham does not have her own horse, so she has to be able to “ride any horse they give you” at tournaments. That adjustment makes polo even more challenging. Even if she did own a horse, it would be difficult to transport it to and from each game.
We wish to applaud Graham for putting her time and effort into this unique sport, and we hope that her success continues as she plays year-round.