In sixth century Persia kings, nobles, and cavalry would participate in a training exercise on horseback with mallets. Driving a wooden ball up and down a field at thundering speeds over 64 kilometres per hour and fighting full contact to score was a lot like a mini battle.
Polo, as we know of it today, is the world’s oldest equestrian sport and still closely resembles the drums of an ancient war as hoofs make contact with the ground. The game is played on a field the size of nine football fields and the horses can get up to a full run with a rider standing on their back. Due to the rules, it can only be played right-handed and it is still a full-contact sport where players can ride into others at a 45-degree. Kind of like hockey on horseback.
It has a history of being an exclusive and snobbish sport but the Vancouver International Polo Festival which launches at Southlands Riding Club on Saturday, August 13 is opening up the thrill of the game to the public with more accessibly priced tickets ($25) and introducing a more casual party atmosphere.
Co-presented by The Vancouver Polo Club and Southlands Riding Club, the event is Argentinian-themed to honour one of the many countries that hold polo as an important cultural sport. The afternoon will consist of polo matches (of course), a spectator-assisted divot stomp, and three special guest DJ’s spread across the grounds. There will also be a roaming Argentinian band and tango dancers.
And foodies can look forward to a Veuve Cliquot Champagne tent, a Heineken lounge, a complimentary Argentinian wine tasting from 2:30pm-4:30pm, and a specially curated cocktail program by bartender Jacob Sweetapple and his team at Notion Concepts.
There will be horseshoe pitch games, a halftime divot stop where guests can meet the players, and a beginners polo clinic on the field as guests arrive. 100% of proceeds benefit BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Southland’s Horse Rescue Program which gives horses and ponies in need a second chance.
Vancouver International Polo Festival
Date: Saturday, August 13, 2022
Address: Southlands Riding Club – 7025 MacDonald St.
Cost: $25 + taxes and fees