HILLS, MN – After decades of slow growth, the Sioux Falls Polo Club is “saddling up” for the busiest season yet.
A record-setting number of tournaments are scheduled at a permanent home on the southeast edge of town.
“Some people compare it to hockey on the back of a horse,” Rebecca Barker said.
On a practice field in Hills, Minnesota, a scrimmage between Sioux Falls Polo Club players gets heated.
The players are diverse, from a stay-at-home mom to a doctor. The love of the lesser-known sport in South Dakota bonds them together.
“You never stop learning. You are always learning and when you hit the ball it’s like, wow, that’s exciting. You get to go hit it again. But you miss it and you’re like, what can I do to fix that,” Brigette Trabits said.
Jeff Schneekloth started the Sioux Falls club in the 1990s. It’s struggled to grow, hovering at eight current players. The club is small, but the players have large talent.
Schneekloth played professionally, and Brigette Trabits was the collegiate female player of the year while attending Colorado State.
“It’s a blast. There is nothing to compare to it. Yes, it is time consuming but you get so much out of it,” Trabits said.
The biggest draw, according to these players, is the unique bond with the horses.
“There is a real special connection as a rider with the horse and the adrenaline of the sport,” Rebecca Barker said.
Although the club has been around for decades, it remains Sioux Falls’ best kept secret.
“Not very many people know that we do have one here. But we are starting to get more interest. In the last few years we’ve had sponsors for our big tournament in August,” Barker said.
With a record-setting three official tournaments scheduled this summer, organizers are on track to bringing the world’s fastest full contact sport to the next level.
They’re also hosting lessons with an Argentinean teacher for the younger generation to get involved at their practice field, no horses required.
The polo field is extremely large. The practice field is about ten football fields in size. The horses get worn out and so they’re replaced during every period, or chucker. That gets expensive having multiple horses playing polo.
“Yes it is expensive but you get so much out of it,” Trabits said.
The group will also take their horses on the road, traveling to tournaments from Minneapolis to Milwaukee this summer.
All the while, letting the country know about the unique sport that’s made its home in Sioux Falls.
Tournaments are scheduled as follows:
US Polo Association Constitution Cup- Saturday and Sunday- July 18 and 19, SF Polo vs. St Croix Polo Club (Minneapolis, MN)
US Polo Association Masters Cup- Saturday, August 1, SF Polo vs. Madison Polo Club (Madison, WI)
US Polo Association Congressional Cup- Saturday- September 19 , SF Polo vs. Twin City Polo Club (Minneapolis, MN)
Location: Windrows Tournament Polo Field
Address: Baker Park Place, Sioux Falls, SD
Directions: Highway 11, south of 57th Street, then east or left on 269th St. to the end. Make a left then next right on Riverside Place to the end.
For any further info or lesson inquiries contact Rebecca Barker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-647-5470.
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