by Gillian Ockner
Sunday, August 21st was my husband's birthday and I decided we would celebrate by tailgating at the Cascade Polo Club match and helping support the Land Trust. As a horse person, I have always loved polo. I grew up in Southern California and spent weekends at Will Rogers State Park taking jumping lessons and lingering at the polo field afterwards to watch a match. I read Jilly Cooper's novel Polo and even dated a polo player many, MANY years ago. So, I was thrilled to learn that we have polo right here in Central Oregon AND that it supported one of my favorite nonprofits.
We set out on a hot summer's day with our daughter and her friend, a picnic lunch with lots of ice, watermelon, and cupcakes for dessert, and a Happy Birthday banner to hang on the car to distinguish our tailgate. My husband is a good sport. He is not really a horse person, and he is not that into wearing wide brimmed hats. Yet he willingly drove onto the field, endured the heat while watching thundering hooves galloping by, and sported a HUGE black sombrero with gold piping and a fake black handlebar mustache. I had heard that part of the fun would be competing for best hat and thanks to a last minute Goodwill purchase, my husband actually won—the prize was a Bendistillery Tour & Tasting Party for Six. We met Francoise Labbe, the manager of Bendistillery, who was tailgating nearby and we are looking forward to visiting her place soon.
As for the game, we were excited to be on the field where we were close enough to pet the horses and talk to the players. There were six chukkers played by two teams with four players each. We were impressed by the number of women players. We talked to one who grew up in a family of polo players and actually wears pearls as part of her match ensemble! We got thoroughly confused over which goal belonged to which team at various points in the game as it changes after each goal is made. But whether we followed the game completely or not, we cheered, laughed, and jumped with joy at the sight of beautiful animals, mountains, and funny hats. I know I will go back to watch another match again and if I can make it to one of the open practices held by the Cascade Polo Club on Wednesday evenings at 5 pm, I just might even get to gallop down the field myself someday.
In addition to being a new polo fan, Gillian Ockner is on the Land Trust's Board of Directors. Many thanks to the Cascade Polo Club for choosing the Land Trust as one of their match beneficiaries!