The Bend Polo Club
Polo may seem a bit too formal for our mountain bike-loving, beer-swigging town. However, we’re athletic, we love our animals, and we’re drawn to wide open spaces. Therefore, polo may be the perfect fit for Central Oregon.
General Manager Bruce DeKock and Certified USPA Instructor Henri du Toit, partners at the Bend Polo Club, are convinced that polo will catch on in Bend. The club is housed and matches take place at Camp Fraley Ranch in Bend.
“It is an exhilarating, fun, sociable and truly amazing sport that uses incredible animals.” – Rachele Gallinat
Polo traces its origin back to ancient Persia, while the first polo club was established in India in 1833. It requires the skills of both horse and rider who are dedicated to a set of rules. While open to hockey-style skirmishes, the game is adamant about the safety of both—perhaps leaning more toward the protection of the horse.
DeKock discovered polo just four years ago following his daughter’s wish to learn to ride horses. Not wanting to be a dad on the sidelines, he joined in. After an introduction to polo, he was hooked. DeKock is also living proof that polo’s highfalutin image is unwarranted. Unless playing in a tournament, he sticks to jeans and a t-shirt to play. And there’s always tailgating involved!
“I am a poster child for the term, ‘anyone can play,’” DeKock relays. “At the end of the first season, I could barely get the horse going and hit the ball.”
“I am able to combine all my passions—horses, being outside, being active, and playing a team sport,” adds Equine Manager and Chief Digital Marketing Officer Rachele Gallinat. “It is an exhilarating, fun, sociable and truly amazing sport that uses incredible animals.”
Gallinat was a Sportsmanship Award-winning polo player at Oregon State University.
Henri du Toit—with 20 years of playing professionally under his belt—offers these tips for interested polo players . . .
- The horse is the most important part of the sport.
- Going fast does not mean you’re a good player.
- Polo is a team sport.