Polo Players Edition

SEP 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 9 O klahoma City is widely known for great farmland, oil wells and cowboy culture, but many may not be as familiar with the active polo facility in Jones, Oklahoma, only 19 miles from the city known as the "Big Friendly." Owned and operated by Great Plains Circuit Governor David Ragland and his wife Judy, OKC Polo Club serves as the go-to place for fun, family-oriented polo for players of all ages in the region. No amenity was left out when designing the club—two polo barns, an arena, two practice fields, a track and a wooden practice horse, all complimenting a regulation size polo field. After practices and games, players and guests can enjoy a lovely shaded area perfect for relaxing on a hot day. "In the 1980s and 90s there was quite a bit of polo in Oklahoma because of two local families involved in the sport," said David Ragland. "By the early 2000s, polo had subsided in the area and we came up with the idea of creating a polo club and teaching safe riding and the basics of polo. There were not any pros here at the time, so we had to develop the club from the grass roots up." OKC operates a full summer season each year, May through October, with the Raglands at the helm of operations. Barn manager Alberto Tadeo, along with several dedicated members, serve as support during the six-month season each year. A first for the club last summer was the addition of intercollegiate player Devan Groves, USPA Polo Development 2017 Excellence Award winner. "We have seven or eight school horses that we use in our lesson program," said Ragland. "As people advance, we have horses for sale and horses that we rent. I started out teaching and have taught for several years, but last summer I worked as backup for Devan, who is a senior at Oklahoma State University, captain of the polo team, and very close to becoming a USPA Certified Polo Instructor." Aside from teaching at the club, Ragland serves as coach and advisor for the Oklahoma State University men's and women's polo teams, an hour away from the club in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Ragland's continued efforts with OSU further his mission to enhance polo in the area, and his years of experience combined with excellent help from Groves, made the summer lesson program at OKC Polo Club fun and enjoyable for many students. Of the 12 USPA circuits, the Great Plains is the smallest. Despite encompassing Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and part of Missouri, only a handful of clubs offer polo to those in the region. OKC Polo Club is on a mission to change these statistics with a solid approach to teaching and working with surrounding clubs. "We have a limited number of players spanning the region, so we try to travel and mix with several of the other clubs in the circuit," said Ragland. "However, those clubs are also working on advancing the skill level of their players in their respective areas, so it continues to be a work in progress. Susan Koehler is the Lieutenant Governor of the circuit and she has done an amazing job with her farm and facility of NWA Polo Club [Gravette, Arkansas]. USPA Polo Development, LLC has done a tremendous job helping us to develop polo in our areas, but it takes time and we are continuing to work on it." The dedication to growth starts with a solid foundation for all horses and riders. "We try to start everybody in the arena," Ragland explained. "What that does is create a confined environment for both the horse and rider. You can quickly dispel any fear someone might have and help someone progress more quickly. Typically, summer clubs like ours are more oriented towards the grass. While we are promoting that, we are also building a reputation for having a great arena program. We find that some people enjoy staying in the arena and some like to go on grass, so we try to do both." OKC Polo Club begins new players' education on the wooden horse to develop their position and swing; the students then get accustomed to tack and safety around horses, before moving on to mounted lessons and a coaching league. Once students demonstrated their skills and passion for the game, they are encouraged to work towards becoming a horse owner. Ragland stresses, "We promote that all of our students buy horses. We think that if you really want to be involved and play the sport to its fullest, then a commitment to purchasing one horse can help get you there and get you in the spirit of the game. We are upfront about the fact that polo can be an expensive sport, but we try to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible, by providing opportunities to play with just one horse. Most OKC Polo Club Jones, Oklahoma

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