Polo and Cowboy Hats

Don_King_Days_12Despite the  extreme haze from wildland fires, I managed to get a few  good shots of the happenings at Don King Days 2017. The annual event takes place at the Big Horn Equestrian Center, in Big Horn, Wyoming where the polo field is a spectacle in and of itself. Outside of a golf course, it’s not often you find sixty acres of groomed bluegrass in Wyoming.

Polo is a fast and furious sport. While I confess I don’t really know the rules, that didn’t stop me from having a great time watching and admiring the athletic polo ponies. Spectators lined the field picnicking and socializing in chairs and vehicles, lounging on blankets, and wandering around the various vendor stations. Witnessing the sport with no barrier between spectator and player is one of the unique aspects of the experience.

It might be a surprise to find out that polo has a history in Wyoming dating back to the 1890’s. With its origins in Central Asia as a training for war horses, the popularity of polo as a sport has its beginnings in Persia, dating as far back as 600 BC1.  Modern polo first became popular in India where it was quickly adopted by British colonialists. With many Wyoming Territory ranches having their financial backing located in the British Isles, I guess it’s not hard to understand polo’s importation to Wyoming2.

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Modern polo may have a reputation as a sport for the rich, with spectators fashionably dressed, and ladies donning hats worthy of the Royal Ascot, but here in Wyoming it takes on the decidedly relaxed character of the local culture. Although I might have seen a few glasses of champagne, the beer buggy was making regular rounds. Cowboy hats outnumbered the fancy kind, and during the traditional half  time divot stomping, locals took the opportunity to take their dogs for a stroll.

1 http://www.polomuseum.com/sport-polo/history-polo
2 http://www.flyinghpolo.com/history.htm

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