Local players ride alongside those visiting from other states, as well as from England, Holland, and Argentina, the country that produces the best polo players in the world.
Broken bones are not uncommon. A foul hook can dislocate a shoulder, and a mallet in the face means stitches.
After the shouldering ferocity of the chukkers and the windup for a final shot, all eight players meet on the field to shake hands at the end of the match. Three players leaning in for this bit of polo etiquette are Barry Limehouse, Todd Martineau, and Elisa Cashin.
Polo matches bring out friends, family, and other spectators.
Presenting the silver, like stomping the divots, is a cherished ceremony. Plates go to the members of the winning team, cups to the runners-up. After the presentation, players talk to the fans, sit their children on the ponies, and explain the game to newcomers. Amy Vann Flowers (right, center) presides over this ceremony at Hyde Park Farm & Polo Club, a full-service polo school and facility that she built on family property near Ravenel.
Bridles are hung on the trailer, and each player sets up a spot to kick off his shoes and pull on his boots.
A game of skill, speed, and power, it’s often played at full gallop and in a perilous lean, as demonstrated by Batt Humphreys in red and Barry Limehouse in blue.
Player and Hyde Park Farm & Polo Club owner Amy Vann Flowers (top, right) rests in a shade chair during the annual beach polo match on Kiawah Island.
Aftercare for humans includes getting together for food and a beer with the dogs.
Preparation for a match starts in the early morning with unloading a string of six to eight mounts per player, braiding their tails, and wrapping their legs.
Children—such as Mason Sease who is hosing down his mom’s horse, are part of the horse aftercare routine
With a half-ton horse moving at speeds up to 25 miles per hour, polo is a dangerous sport.
Although “polo pony” is the traditional term for these athletic animals, Thoroughbreds, such as mare Mamba, and quarter horses are the most common breeds used for the game.
Children—Such as Morgan and Alston Limehouse (top, right), who help unwrap and unsaddle—are part of the horse aftercare routine that includes hot walking and grazing.
Eliza Limehouse, 14 years old and a fan of the color pink, carries her tack for a spring scrimmage game. She wears leather kneepads for protection and over-chaps to save her boots from wear. She’s a dedicated player, as evidenced by the tiny polo horse illustration on her retainer.
Horses are checked and turned on a dime. They collide and rear. Riders fall, sticks clash.