Sugarbush polo: the oldest polo club in Vermont

Zari Sadri, Warren, has been riding horses for most of her life and grew up watching the Sugarbush Polo Club. “After working for a clothing company that sponsored different snow polo events in my last career, I fell in love with the sport, and started taking lessons with the club in 2020. In my opinion, it’s the most fun you can have on horseback, and such a great way to build community! Our team is really relaxed, not super competitive, and full of people who just want to have fun! We have lots of new members who have just recently gotten into the sport playing this year, so come join us,” she said.

The Sugarbush Polo Club, the oldest polo club in Vermont, officially founded in 1971, plays every other Saturday at 2 p.m. in Waitsfield and every Sunday at Shelburne Field in Shelburne, weather permitting. It was founded by Harlow Carpenter, Arthur Williams, Jack Murphy, and others, according to club member Dick Kellogg. “Probably 1962 is when some of the ‘ski bums’ started using brooms, ski poles, and an inflatable ball in front of the Alpen Inn,” Kellogg said. “Holly Ward joined the group very quickly and learned that in order to keep it going ‘ponies’ were needed – so at the end of each Florida season he would be shopping around for ‘culls’ from other player’s strings. Holly was also responsible for keeping the club going, organizing the practices, the fields, the lessons, etc. – and most importantly calling in the morning to get the roster set!”

On the field, two teams of three or four players compete in a game of 7.5-minute periods. The Sugarbush Polo Club is composed of roughly 20 members, from all over central and northern Vermont. “Visiting members come from as far away as Connecticut, and tournaments usually feature teams from clubs in New York, Boston, and Connecticut,” Sadri said. “Most of the polo we play during the summer is club polo, where we’ll split up into teams that change weekly and have a friendly match.”

The Sugarbush Polo Club gives lessons to all ages and riding experience levels in Waitsfield, Shelburne, and East Montpelier. Players need only bring boots; horses and equipment are provided.

The club’s biggest tournament of the year, the annual Holly Ward tournament, will take place at Shelburne field on Saturday, August 12, and Sunday, August 13. Games are at 1 and 3 p.m. both days. Adventure Dinner will provide a picnic on Sunday, August 13. Tickets, which include the price of admission, can be purchased at

“Club polo is free to watch, but donations are always appreciated. Tailgating is encouraged, so bring lawn chairs and snacks!” Sadri said. Check the club’s Instagram and Facebook pages at @sugarbushpolo for updates on conditions and whether the club will play. 

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