Polo Players Edition

DEC 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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P O L O R E P O R T 56 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N sport of polo. While boarding his two horses at McClarty's acreage, the two of them would ride the few miles down the road to Ross Fargey's sheep pasture to join in on the 'game of neighbors' with several other locals. Spencer found polo brought his passion for riding horses together with his love for competitive sport. He took a chukker on any horse he could get while he trained his two young quarter horses to play at the same time he was learning. With the help of Guy Kling, a realtor and member of the Springfield Polo Club, Spencer found his dream property on the edge of the 10,000-acre Birds Hill Provincial Park, just a few miles from the polo fields. Without a truck and trailer, Spencer would ride three miles to Sunday polo while evening practice chukkers required a five-mile ride in each direction to Fargey's field. With an ever-burning desire for progress and improvement of the club, Spencer rallied a few other key members in the early 1990s to bring in Springfield's first professional player, Alan Friedman of the Sarasota Polo Club, to raise the level of play and teach members a better way to play polo. This introduction of pros spurred the club's development towards bigger and better times. Professionals Rafael (Canelo) Silvestre and Isaias Palma Franco followed shortly after and they have been improving the level of horses and polo for the past 22 and 21 years, respectively. Spencer also spearheaded the push to start cutting manes, putting up tails and wearing whites. In 1994, Spencer married his wife, Susan, and together they established the Rocking S Ranch and began their family of soon-to-be polo players. They had three children—Garrett, Katie and Regan. The children were strapped into car seats for long trips to neighboring clubs across Western Canada before they were 8 weeks old! By the time they were 5, they were learning to ride and play. Spencer purchased a 12.2-hand Welsh Cobb pony. With 40-inch mallets made by Canelo, Garrett and his pony Bullet learned the game together and opened the era of the 'Smith kids on their ponies'. In total, the siblings had five durable ponies that were ridden to and from the fields every game day, each doubled most every game, and they often scared any other horse that played on the field with them! As the years rolled on and his children improved, Spencer had developed his own team of 'pros' with excellent horses. Rocking S Polo would always provide a competitive, fast- running and clean game. Spencer and his family made it a tradition to embark on annual polo trips throughout the Western Canadian prairies and upper United States to visit tournaments at other clubs and catch up with old friends. Spencer could be counted on to embrace the travels and show up ready to play—no matter what the weather forecast looked like. Over 25 years, Spencer's family logged a lot of hours and created a multitude of great memories on the road. Destinations such as Grande Prairie, Saskatoon, Calgary/Black Diamond, Kelowna, Edmonton, Minneapolis, Duluth and South Dakota are all home to many dear friends. With a focus on family, Spencer was a Canadian polo icon who embodied the spirit of polo in the prairies, both on the Canadian and American sides of the border. In his later years, he served as a USPA club delegate. Nothing brought Spencer greater joy than playing polo as a family event alongside his children, and with much support from his wife and eldest daughter Paige. He believed polo was the only sport you could play at a competitive level with your kids, and many times over the years he expressed how thankful and proud he was to have a family that shared his passion for polo. During the harsh Manitoba winters, Spencer got his horse fix by hitting the trails in his western saddle or hooking up his team of Percherons for a drive through the park. The team is used to pull both a wagon in the summer and a sleigh in the winter. Among many others, annual New Year's Eve sleigh rides provided many cherished memories with family and friends along with a few stories of some epic runaways in the early training years! Of course, this was all part of living a life so deeply involved with horses. Kling said the Springfield Polo Club would most likely have folded over two decades ago if Spencer hadn't come along, admitting they really didn't have a clue what they were doing until Spencer took the initiative to move the club in a progressive direction. Ensuring his children would always have somewhere to play summer polo, Spencer developed the Rocking S Polo School. Just as the early club members had done for him, Spencer provided horses for those learning how to play. Spencer and his family, with the support and direction of the USPA, finished their second summer of teaching lessons and providing coaching chukkers to new members at the club. Spencer also continued his field manager duties, which he stepped into over a decade ago. Spencer and his family spent endless hours moving sprinklers, often multiple times per day or night, mowing the field, setting it up for game play, and so on. Spencer took great pride in the amount of rain the fields could handle.

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