Picture the game of polo and you might conjure up images of wealth and exclusivity.
In pockets of the world the label rings true, but here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains the perception of opulence surrounding polo is far from its reality.
“We’re trying to de-elite it. I’ve been trying to do that for 15 years,” said Stephen Cobb, president of the Black Diamond Polo Club. “My good friend Jack Schneider, vice-president of the club, his phrase coined by him is ‘everyone out there thinks of polo as champagne, caviar and princes, but we are actually cowboys, beer and sandwiches.’”
Polo’s history in Western Canada is steeped in the tradition of the pioneering west. Dating back to the first match in the 1880s, polo was very much a cowboy sport played on ranches in southern Alberta and predated many of the mainstream rodeo activities.
The Black Diamond Polo Club’s history goes back to the late 1990s when land owner and polo player Rob Peters established the club at its immaculate location, across the road from the Millarville Racetrack.
“It’s our ranch and we decided, we would just start here and have more family type polo,” Peters said. “We’ve been at it 15, 16 years and it’s worked out very well.”
Typically polo players bring two to four horses with them to swap in and out in what can be a grueling, action-filled game for the four-legged creatures. However, bringing a stable of horses is far from a requirement at the Millarville-based club.
Those wanting to come out and try polo need only pack a desire to learn.
Nicolas Llambias ensures new players pick up the sport and horse riding ability with lessons in the fundamentals of polo.
“We have lots of different levels of horses for different levels of riders,” Llambias said. “I’ve had beginners that have never been on a horse before and if they commit to being here once a week, twice a week for maybe the first month they get going pretty fast.”
The club encourages any and all to come out and watch or try their hand at polo.
For more information on the club go to blackdiamondpolo.com