Polo player Dawn Laurel Jones hopes that the all-female polo teams facing each other at the Nissan Chukkers for Charity match for the first time Saturday will raise awareness about the prevalence of women’s polo.
“The public knows very little about polo, but it’s a 2,500-year-old sport,” Jones said.
“There are drawings of women in China on horseback that date back to the 1870s, but people didn’t become aware of the sport until its heyday in the 1930s.”
Jones, a longtime cinematographer and still photographer, developed a passion for polo 24 years ago when she met her husband, famous actor, director and producer Tommy Lee Jones, on the movie set of “The Good Old Boys.”
“My husband grew up on a ranch in Texas and has been around horses all of his life,” Dawn Jones said. “He introduced me to the game, and I wanted to share something with my husband that was so important to him.”
The couple has been married for almost 18 years and lives on a ranch in San Saba, Texas, the same town where Tommy Lee Jones grew up.
Dawn Jones took to polo and has been playing and training ever since. She won the Womenʼs U.S. Open twice, once awarded the game MVP and recently played in the historic Argentine Womenʼs Open 2017, to name a few accomplishments.
“I could talk about it for hours,” she said during a practice session between the two all-female teams, set to face off Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at Riverview Farm in Franklin.
“What I love about the sport is that it is something the whole family can do together; it builds camaraderie and is exhilarating.”
The two all-female polo teams will feature the Ironhorse Farms team including Martha Bennett, Virginia Ingram, Hope Arellano and Gillian Johnston. The Colonial Hill Farm team will include Gracie Brown, Lexie Armstrong, Dawn Jones and Allie Henderson.
The world-class polo players are made up of professionals who have won numerous championships around the world.
Polo player Virginia Ingram, daughter of Orrin and Lee Ann Ingram, owners of the farm where the event will be held, will also be playing in the tournament.
“Last year was my first time playing in Chukkers for Charity,” Virginia Ingram said. “It was by far one of the most amazing games I have ever played because the crowd was so impressive, and of course, it was super cool to be able to play with my dad.
“It will be my first time playing in an all-female tournament, and I am so excited to be a part of the wonderful group of women that are going to be playing in the game tomorrow.”
The sport of polo builds focus, is therapeutic because of time spent with the horses, and is good exercise because it builds upper body and core strength, Jones explained. Most of all, she said the sport helps to develop a strong camaraderie with fellow teammates.
Jones’ love of horses keeps her hooked on the sport and eager to spread awareness about the sport.
“Horses are friendly and incredibly giving,” she said. “My mare pushes herself to the limits and gives me her all. Being with horses is very therapeutic, particularly for those with disabilities or those who have experienced trauma, such as those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
She currently is proud to serve as vice president of the Women’s International Polo Network.
“Its purpose is to educate, connect and help players network,” Jones said.
She also says polo is not as unattainable as some might think and wants to spread the word to make the sport more accessible to women and all who want to play.
“At a minimum, it costs about $1,500 to hold a tournament,” Jones said.
“I think it’s important for women to mentor each other and help each other, especially now,” she added.
The gates for Chukkers for Charity will open at 1 p.m. for tailgaters and 2 p.m. for patrons. The opening ceremony will be held at 2:45 p.m. and will include performers Curtis Braly and Sweet Tea Trio, with the polo match beginning around 3 p.m. Following the polo match, the Patrons’ Dinner will begin at 6:15 p.m.
Patron and cabana tickets are sold out. However, general admission tickets can be purchased at the gate Saturday or visit https://chukkersforcharity.net for more information or call call 615-794-1150 extension 320.
Chukkers for Charity is hosted by Lee Ann and Orrin Ingram at Riverview Farm at 1475 Moran Road in Franklin. Nissan is the title sponsor.