Big Horn, Wyo.: Polo Games on Sundays
Road Journals Blog—There’s no doubt Sheridan and neighboring Big Horn (population 200, give or take) are smack in the middle of cowboy country . . . unless you happen to be in the vicinity of the Big Horn Events Center any Sunday between June and early September. There you’ll find white-panted riders (not a Stetson to be seen), armed with mallets instead of six-shooters.
It turns out Sheridan loves polo almost as much as cowboys.
The earliest known game of polo in the area was played in 1893. In 1898 the Moncrieffe brothers—who came to the area from Scotland—established the Big Horn Polo Club. Rumor has it that the first man to umpire a game in town was a friend of Crazy Horse, and that the Moncrieffe brothers required their cowhands become proficient with a mallet.
Today the BHPC is the oldest club west of the Mississippi. During the zenith of the sport’s popularity here in the 1920s, the club’s mammoth events drew Indian chiefs, cowboys, and locals alike.
Nowadays, says Perk Connell, president of the BHPC and a local polo horse breeder and trainer, about 300 spectators turn out for a match. They sell beer. They host tailgate parties. At halftime, everyone heads onto the field to stomp the divots back into place.
Next door is the High Goal (the sport’s term for professionals) Flying H Polo Club. The players there are generally higher-ranked than those at BHPC, but the clubs share an important distinction: matches and practices are free to watch at both clubs.
If you have a choice between a match that has a cowboy polo mini-match scheduled for halftime and one that doesn’t, go for the cowboy halftime show. “There are no rules in cowboy polo,” Connell says. “We have them use brooms and volleyballs; it’s easier to get hit with a broom than a mallet.”
BHPC has practice games at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, and at 10 a.m. Sundays from early June through Labor Day. Matches are held at 2 p.m. on Sundays in June and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in July and August.
This blog post was first published in November 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.