SI Vault
 
POLO AS SHE'S SELDOM SEEN
Peter Hurd
November 08, 1954
As played by famous artist Peter Hurd in New Mexico, polo is far from a rich man's game. You do need a reasonably flat field, and you do need some sort of horse to carry you up and down it. Used polo balls can be scrounged, soaked, dried and repainted. Mallets come cheap. Skill helps, but enthusiasm will serve just as well
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 08, 1954

Polo As She's Seldom Seen

As played by famous artist Peter Hurd in New Mexico, polo is far from a rich man's game. You do need a reasonably flat field, and you do need some sort of horse to carry you up and down it. Used polo balls can be scrounged, soaked, dried and repainted. Mallets come cheap. Skill helps, but enthusiasm will serve just as well

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

"You know," he said, "that's bound to be a hell of a good pony. Look at the number of brands he's got arned out. Ever' damn time they arned a brand it means somebody stoled him."

Once, in the early days of polo at San Patricio, the mail brought word to Eric Knight that he had sold the rights of publication in Denmark for one of his books. A check for $35 accompanied the letter from his agent, and when Knight disappeared for a few hours we all knew where he had gone. On a neighboring ranch there was a trim little sorrel filly whose owner wanted just $35 for her. When Eric returned he was leading the filly. Her name, he said, would be "Danish Rights."

This name didn't stick, probably because the Mexicanitos who played with us found it difficult and unintelligible. Instead, they called her "La Bamba," for her graceful and dancing trot.

In that time there lived, not far from our ranch, a family named Herrera. There were five brothers, four of them in their middle and late 20s. All were talented and dedicated horsemen. They worked variously as cowhands and horse breakers and were always flamboyantly conspicuous performers at the local fiestas and rodeos. There was Jose, known as El Pi?o, after a Navajo grandfather; Antonio called El Gordo; Aristeo, called El Cadillo for his resemblance to a cockle-bur when he was clinging to the mane of a wild meste?o. There was also Manuel, called simply Manuelito, and Frutuoso, known as El Heuro for the habit he had of bleaching his black Indian hair.

THE RULES OF THE GAME

The Herreras were obviously perfectly endowed for our purposes, and it wasn't long before they were enthusiastic poloistas. American cowboys from surrounding ranches also joined us, but they were always less spectacular, had less showmanship than the Herreras. Occasionally cavalry officer friends dropped in to watch or even participate in our rustic sport. From one cavalryman came a widely circulated rumor about polo as played at San Patricio. There were, according to the story, three rules:

1. No knives or guns allowed; carrying of ropes is frowned upon.
2. If a player is unhorsed, it is against the rules to run over him or belabor him with mallets until he has remounted.
3. If the ball goes out of Lincoln County, a rider is sent to a high peak to fire a gun and light a signal fire rallying the players to the ranch house for a round of tequila copitas.

The story obviously has no basis, for Lincoln County stretches 100 miles in one direction and 90 in another.

Another fable is that we once applied to have the W.P.A. make a federal relief project of our polo team. This is untrue, but it is a fact that at one time three of the Herrera boys were full-time W.P.A. workers, which limited our games to Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

Polo became an established institution at San Patricio and, though no one had any money for fancy gear, there was no lack of willingness to match games with all comers. Our opponents were widely varied, and consisted of civilian and military teams from Roswell, El Paso, Ft. Bliss and Juarez.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5
Related Topics
  ARTICLES GALLERIES COVERS
Eric Knight 1 0 0
Roswell 11 0 0
Mexico Military Institute 2 0 0
Lincoln County 3 0 0
Grove Collum 1 0 0