After 12 long years of work and negotiations, this summer the United States Pony Club has decided to accept polo as an official discipline.
“There were two main reasons that the Pony Club decide to accept us this year,” says Kris Bowman who is the director of club development at the United States Polo Association. “The first was that they saw how strong our intercollegiate and interscholastic program was – this year we had 110 teams. So they could see that if kids learned polo in the pony club, they could take it somewhere, they could play on an interscholastic or an intercollegiate level.
“The second reason was that they wanted to expand any programs that would retain boys in the Pony Club.”
Polo’s official induction into the USPC was marked by three days of games, clinics and demonstrations at the 2011 Pony Club Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, from July 24-26. Clinics included sessions with the foot mallet, on horseback and in a hitting cage.
The polo demonstration match featured two members of Aiken’s interscholastic polo team, Ty Morris and Austin Allen. Austin is a junior member at Aiken Polo Club, while Ty plays with Overbrook in Wagener. Both young men are pony club members who are also veterans of polocrosse. Aiken is expected to have its own pony club polo team in the very near future.
“We expect Aiken to be one of the leaders in the pony club polo movement,” says Kris.
Kris is excited about the prospect of pony club introducing polo to hundreds, if not thousands of enthusiastic kids.
“Our interscholastic programs start when kids are 12,” she says. “But pony club starts when kids are much younger. So here we’ll have these amazing young riders, already playing polo by the time they are old enough for the interscholastic program.”