My property borders the old Wohlman horse stable, located on 400th Street Southeast, a block or two from the Krain restaurant. Old man Wohlman sold the farm in the late 1990s and, since then, it’s had two or three owners, none of whom could work the farm successfully. The place stood empty for a couple of years until the Seattle Polo and Equestrian Club bought it in 2012.
During the last two years, the land and buildings have been substantially refurbished and enhanced. It seems like Cameron Smith, a key figure within the corporate structure, has been the major force behind these improvements, but to some extent his entire extended family has been involved. One of the many projects he’s completed is a polo field. I’ve always found this rather surprising. I mean, really now, a polo field? Polo, you know, is that team sport that’s played on horseback and the riders use wooden mallets to hit a plastic ball through a goal. Traditionally, it’s known as the “Game of Kings” and for good reason: it’s been popular among the British monarchy since the late 1800s and members of the royal family still play polo on a regular basis. Prince Charles isn’t very good at it. Though I have only watched part of a few royal games on TV, Charles kept falling off his horse. He’d get angry and throw his helmet on the ground, which seems very un-regal like.
I’ve never known anyone with even a passing interest in polo and surely no one within a 15-mile radius of Enumclaw. Be that as it may, I’ve recently learned there are several polo tournaments and fields around the Pacific Northwest. Most of these games and grounds are tied to the Seattle polo club mentioned above. Like any other team sport, polo has stars and heroes, trophies, winning teams, losing teams and parties and spectators that vaguely remind me of the Kentucky Derby. (If you’re so inclined, check it out online: Seattlepoloclub.com)
Anyway, the local operation recently invited its neighbors to the field to witness a practice match. It was the facility’s initiation, so to speak. The crowd was larger than I expected – much of the Y Bar S neighborhood was there – and we sat along the edge of the field enjoying free hot dogs and soft drinks and, of course, watching men and women on horseback hit the ball around. I didn’t find the game especially exciting, but still quite fascinating and entertaining.
If you’d like to see this sport, there’ll be games Aug. 9 and 10, with a $10 and $15 entrance fee, respectively. The second day is a bit more expensive because it’s “lady hat day.” There will also be a special reduced family fee, but it hasn’t yet been determined.
Polo is relatively new to the Pacific Northwest, but it’s already more popular than you might expect. Who knows, it might become the next big thing in the sports world. After all, a few years ago no one paid any attention to soccer.