A Brief History of the game

Scholars believe polo originated in China or Persia over 2,000 years ago, and the game was originally used for training cavalry. The first recorded polo match was played between the Turkomans and the Persians (the Turkomans won), and the game was played from Constantinople to Japan in the Middle Ages. Then, thanks to the Persians and the Mongols of India, polo spread across the eastern world by the 16th century.
The modern age of polo began when the British discovered the game in Manipur on the border of India and Burma and founded the world's first polo club at Silchar. Many other clubs followed and today the Calcutta Club, which was founded in 1862, is considered the world's oldest. British soldiers and tea planters in India quickly took up the sport, prompting its spread to the West, and today the oldest clubs outside of India include The Malta Polo Club, the All-Ireland Polo Club in Dublin, England's Monmouthshire Polo Club and the Meadowbrook Polo Club on Long Island in New York. From there, the sport headed south to Argentina and around the globe to Australia, making polo the international sport that it is today.

The Big Horn Polo Club

Polo has been played in this area for over 120 years. On July 4, 1893, in Sheridan there was a polo game played in front of several thousand spectators, warmed up by a military band before the match started. There were also steeplechase, flat race, trotting race and even a fat man’s race run, but polo started the festivities. The teams featured five mainly British players to a side, pitting Beckton vs. Sheridan.
Today the club has about 30 local players as well as many out-of-town players who come for part or all of the summer season. Big Horn is known across the country as THE place to find promising young horses, thanks to the number of breeders and trainers who make Big Horn their home. Along with Flying H Polo Club next door, which hosts some of the top-rated players in the world, this part of Wyoming has become a polo destination for many in the game.

A Little History – by Kim Cannon
Although the Oregon Trail crossed through the middle of Wyoming following the Platte River and its tributary the Sweetwater, and the transcontinental railroad was built through southern Wyoming, the lands in northeast Wyoming were largely ceded to the Northern Cheyenne who had successfully shut down the Bloody Bozeman Trail opened after the Civil War and obtained rights to vast lands in the Treaty of 1868.
From the perspective of the white homesteader at that time, northern Wyoming and southeastern Montana were a no man's land, the last of the West to be settled - exactly the kind of open range where one could run large cattle herds fed by the stream of cattle drives from Texas. At the same time, the British doctrine of primogeniture, by which the oldest male heir inherited the entire estate, forced English noblemen to finance the adventures of their younger sons abroad. Many of these young men, like Oliver Henry Wallop and Malcolm Moncreiffe, found their way to Wyoming and Montana, bringing thoroughbred horses.
The proof of the successful efforts in breeding and raising fine thoroughbreds in this area came in 1901 when officers from the British Remount Service came to Big Horn to buy thorougbreds to ship to South Africa to fight in the Boer War. At one point there were thousands of thoroughbred horses standing for inspection and purchase by the British buyers.
The Polo Ranch, which Oliver Wallop inherited from Malcolm Moncreiffe and in turn handed it down to Senator Malcolm Wallop, was the center of polo in the Northern Rockies until the early 1980's when the ranch was sold. It had the distinction of being the oldest field in the United States on which polo had been played continuously.
The sale of the Polo Ranch forced the Big Horn Polo Club to find another field. Shirley Taylor's three children, Jim, Watty, and Margie, who played polo, led efforts to stimulate the search for a new field. A meeting at the firm of Burgess & Davis was convened by Shirley with Watty Taylor, Bill King, and Kim Cannon in 1983. A tour of the Burns Ranch with Bruce Burns in July 1984 led to the identification of the present site of the Big Horn Equestrian Center. The original lease was signed on May 2, 1985 and the fields were built with a great deal of work from Bob, Mike and Orrin Connell. Kurt Luplow moved the old school house from the Big Horn School and adapted it for the Clubhouse.
The Big Horn Equestrian Center recognizes that the horse is the center of much of the Big Horn history and culture. The facility was created as a place that honors and will present "everything a horse can do".

The United States Polo Association

Founded in 1890 in New York City, the United States Polo Asociation is the second oldest national governing body of sport in the United States, preceded by only the United States Tennis Association, which was founded in 1881. The USPA is recognized as an official governing body by the Federation of International Polo (FIP), the sport's worldwide governing body.
Polo is considered the oldest team sport in known history. Historians have conjectured the sport originated in either Persia or amongst other tribes of Central Asia as far back as 600 BC as a way to prepare young leaders for the rigors of war. James Gordon Bennett, a wealthy New York publisher, is credited with bringing polo to the US from England in 1876. At that time, the game was quite different than the one played today, with eight or more players per side and matches lasting an entire afternoon. In 1890 the Polo Association, now the United States Polo Association was established in New York City, with seven clubs joining and over 100 handicaps assigned to members, including future President Teddy Roosevelt.

Come join us for a summer of good polo in an area that has a multitude of things to do and see!

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