By US Senior Correspondent Alex Webbe
An imposing figure on any stage, the 6’ 1” Joy Countess du Lau d’Allemans has found her way into the polo community where she has taken up residence as president of the International Beach Polo Association.
Born Joy Ford in Dallas, Texas, Joy was riding from the time she could walk, and earned a reputation as having a soft hand on the reins and a knack for working with the sturdy quarter horses on her father’s ranch. “They were mostly cattle horses,” she offered, “but they were strong, quick and certainly taught me to ride.”
After moving to California she continued to be an active rider and horse show participant, showing into her early teens. “I probably would have continued if Eileen Ford hadn’t convinced me that the world of modeling was my destiny,” she smiled. The iconic CEO of the Ford Agency spotted a teenage Joy walking down Rodeo Drive with her mother after a trip to Disneyland, immediately had her driver pull over, got out of the car and said “I’m going to make you the next big supermodel!” From that moment on her world changed.
After a brief stint in New York it was off to Paris where she went on endless shoots and fashion shows. She appeared on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and dozens of others as she was whisked from one country to another. It was at this time that she was courted by Jean Comte du Lau d’Allemans and swept into a three-day royal wedding at the family castle, Montardy. “I never really followed polo in France,” she said. “I knew friends that played, but I always seemed to be travelling or working. It (modeling) might not seem like work, but believe me, it is.”
Her interest in the game took hold after a high goal game in England, and was nurtured at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. Her introduction to the beach version of the game followed and then she was hooked. “I think it’s the proximity of the horses and the action that makes the beach polo game so engaging,” she said. “The action is happening right in front of you,” she added, “you get to see the beauty of the horses up close and personal and watch the players battle one another for the ball. I love it!”
Joy assisted the International Beach Polo Association in its formative years, coordinating charitable efforts, fashion shows and assisting efforts to get major corporate sponsors involved in the game. “Today there are beach polo events all over the world,” she beamed. “They are almost like road shows that introduce the game to an audience that wouldn’t normally be exposed to a polo match. Hopefully the tournaments serve as an introduction of the game to a broader audience who will begin supporting regional efforts.”
Joy went on to explain the IBPA was created to promote national and international beach polo competition and cooperation in the pursuit of the sport. The Association has created resources for the current and future beach polo clubs around the world to include rules and regulations and suggestions as to the construction and maintenance of the beach polo venues.
As to her duties moving forward, she explains with a smile that the IBPA has to be flexible and able to adapt the sport to any circumstances, but that the future of the shoreline equestrian game has a promising future.