CSU equine polo turns chukkers into chuckles

In order to foster a familial relationship, one must first understand the art of horsing around.

For the Colorado State equine polo club, at least, that’s the most effective strategy they’ve found.

“You’ve got to have some screws loose to do this,” said Rhys Farber, the equine polo club president.

“This has been my little (safe space).” -Elyse Warren, equine polo women’s varsity team member

Working with people in a similar situation is truly what fosters that family environment for CSU polo. 

The welcoming atmosphere becomes immediately apparent just by walking into the stables. 

“It sounds really cliche to say, but CSU polo really is like a family,” said Sara Eggenberger, a horse manager for the team. “The horses only have us, so we really feel a lot of responsibility to them and to each other.”

While Eggenberger said she grew up kind of “yee haw” — knowing how to at least ride a horse — but she didn’t know what polo was.

While it’s turned into lifelong friends and memories, she said she originally joined as a joke.

“(I) was kind of like, ‘What is this?’” Eggenberger said. “I had no idea what it was. Joining the beginner program, (I) kind of fell in love with it. I ended up getting a job my freshman and sophomore year summer working training polo horses and made varsity my sophomore year, and I’ve just been in love with it ever since.”

Elyse Warren, who is a graduate student at CSU, joined the team last year after attending Oklahoma State for her undergraduate program.

Warren definitely knows a thing or two about polo, having been part of two different teams.

But what sets the CSU club apart from the rest? 

“We have two really strong competitive teams,” Warren said. “So I think just going (into regionals) with a huge presence, even from being 13 hours away, we’re going to have more fans and more supporters than teams that are only an hour away from regionals.”

Every sport fosters some healthy competition. Yes, the humans are as competitive as can be, but the horses might be even more so, and that’s ultimately what makes a good polo horse.

Because a rider has to change horses every chukker — a 7.5-minute period in a game — they need horses that look to chase that physicality.

“I love how physical it is,” Eggenberger said. “It’s very intense; my stepdad equated it to MMA. … I love how intense it can get, but also, you have to be working as a team, or it doesn’t work at all.”

Sometimes when life becomes stressful, people might go to a gym or find a different outlet for their stress.

For most of the team, that outlet is their horses and the polo team.

“This has been my little (safe space),” Warren said. “It lets me have a little moment to myself where I don’t have to focus on study, I don’t have to focus on school. … Polo is really just a place where you can go hang out with friends, hang out with horses and go blow off some energy and just be with a family community.”

That support certainly cannot be overstated.

“It’s one of those things that you meet everyone — a lot of them come in as beginners or freshmen,” Eggenberger said. “You don’t know them, and I feel like it’s such a unique way to get to know somebody through sport and taking care of something.”

With so many expenses, including taking care of the horses, it’s vital that the equine polo club fundraise.

One way the CSU polo team is able to make money is through their donations. Anyone interested in helping the team out can donate through their website

“It’s a completely student-run organization,” Warren said. “All funding is based off of donations and all the fundraisers that we do through the university as well.”

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