At Millwood Polo Club, the emphasis is on fun and camaraderie, one chukker at a time.
Debbie Beauman loves playing polo, and she loves sharing the sport with others. So much so that she created her own version of the sport—social arena polo.
“Growing up in New York, I was a serious polo player, both on the field and in the arena. But when I moved to Ocala in 1987, I went a year without playing, and I couldn’t stand it. So I built a stadium field, and the Millwood Polo Club came into being,” says Beauman, 67. “For nearly 30 years, we were rocking and rolling. But then I got older, and my horses got older. I still wanted to play but knew it had to be in a different way. And I thought there has to be others who feel the same way that I do. Also there were probably people who always wanted to try polo but were intimidated by it. And that’s how I came up with social arena polo.”
Beauman built a 165-foot-by-300-foot grass arena with 4-foot-high walls, including 12-foot goal walls on each end. The game is played with a wooden mallet and an inflatable ball about the size of a mini-soccer ball. Each game is two chukkers of seven and a half minutes each. Teams can be from two to four players. The biggest difference between social polo and regular polo is the slower pace.
“We stress playing at a person’s comfort level. Everyone starts out playing at a walk and can stay at that level,” says Beauman. “But riders usually progress to a trot and even a slow canter. That’s our top speed.”
Beauman’s string of horses includes retired polo ponies, who she says “also enjoy playing at a slower pace.” Riders can also bring their own horses. One mandatory lesson, first on a full-sized wooden horse model, aka Woody Jr., then on an actual horse is required. The lesson is given by Anibal Garcia, a retired six-goal Argentine pro polo player, as well as other visiting retired pro players.
“In the two years since I began the social polo, people of all ages from all walks of life have participated. I had a group of young HITS riders come out this year, and they had a ball,” says Beauman. “Social polo is really for anyone who likes riding and having a good time. And we do have a good time.”
Learn more › Millwood Polo Club › 2780 NW 165th Street, Citra › (352) 591-3162 › millwoodpoloclub.com › Call For Saturday Start Times & Prices