Fox hunts and horse shows are a way of life for many folks in northern Oxford Township and now, they’ve added polo to the smorgasbord of equine activities.
Approximately 200 people turned out Saturday evening to watch a charity polo match held at Rattlewood Farms, located at 1935 Ray Rd.
Three members of the Michigan Intercollegiate Polo Club – a University of Michigan student-run organization – squared off against three members of the Detroit Polo Club.
Playing for the Wolverines were Caleb Pilukas, Amanda Vogel and Turner Wheaton.
Playing for Detroit were Katrina Anderson, Andrew Scott and Emmalyn Wheaton.
“I thought it was wonderful. We had a great turnout,” said Emmalyn Wheaton, coach of the U-M polo club and manager of the Detroit Polo Club.
“It was an unbelievable turnout,” said Pilukas, president the U-M polo club. “Coming down the field, we were really happy to see everybody having a great time.”
In polo, two teams of players ride around a field on horseback, using mallets with long, flexible, bamboo handles and wooden heads to drive a ball through goalposts. During play, the horses can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, while the ball can travel as fast as 80 miles per hour.
After four spirited chukkers (playing periods), each lasting 7 minutes, 30 seconds, the Michigan-Detroit game ended in an 11-11 tie.
“It was a lot of fun. We had a great time,” Pilukas said.
No one’s complaining about the tie because there was plenty of action on the lush green field and this event wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about raising money for the U-M polo club, which is completely self-funded. The club receives no money from the university. Instead, the program relies entirely on fund-raisers, member dues, donations and sponsorships.
The event was also designed to raise awareness about a sport that’s often associated with society’s elite – royalty, captains of industry, the idle rich and the like – but in reality, can be learned and played by anyone.
“I really think any exposure is fantastic,” Pilukas said. “It’s a really good opportunity for us to keep pushing this collegiate program, trying to get people into polo and keep the sport alive. Getting players started at the collegiate level, when it’s still affordable, is really the best way to bring new people into it and keep polo around.”
Wheaton said the “intimate venue” at Rattlewood Farms was “perfect” because it provided spectators with an “up-close” view of the game.
“It’s a much smaller field than what we would typically play on, but it played really good. They did a great job prepping it,” she said. “Everything went really well. The horses were happy. Easy-peasy.”
The Michigan Intercollegiate Polo Club’s next fund-raising match is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Detroit Polo Club in Howell. The Wolverines will take on the Spartans from Michigan State University.
Gates open at 12:30 p.m. and the match starts at 1 p.m. General admission is $20. Tickets for the VIP tent are $200.
Tickets are available online at mipoloclub.wixsite.com/mipoloclub/tailgate.