The Sun shines bright over Orange County
This week at CLICKPOLOUSA we talk about the story of OC Polo Club, which was established over 30 years ago in Anaheim, CA, near the Anaheim Stadium, and is in constant growth
Originally known as the Winston Polo Club, the OC Polo Club was established over 30 years ago in Anaheim, CA, near the Anaheim Stadium. It was there that Denny Geiler first became involved in polo, and where he would later take on the role of the club president. The club has moved locations several times over the years due to development squeezing horses out of each area. However, Denny recently jumped at the chance to ensure that OC Polo will always have a place to call home in Orange County. In 2015, Denny and his family purchased an older stable in Silverado Canyon, and built a brand-new state of the art polo facility, the Rancho Silverado Stables.
The ranch features two polo arenas, a Jumbotron, stabling for over 60 horses, locker room for club members and a gorgeous clubhouse, intended to be the central gathering place for family and friends. Members not only have access to these on-site features but also the opportunity to trail ride directly from the ranch into the Orange County Parks in the Silverado Canyon.
“We encourage our players to invest in horses and manage their care as if they were headed for the US Open”
The OC Polo Club has roughly 25 current playing members and continues to grow each year, with a waiting list for lessons. Members have come from all different socio-economic backgrounds with a varying degree of horse and polo experience. The Club features a polo school run by USPA certified instructor Heather Perkins. Students of all ages and experience levels can utilize the equipment and polo horses provided to try their hand at this unique sport. The polo school teaches over 200 lessons each month, with riders ranging in age from 6 to 80 years old. Many players who started at OC Polo have gone on to play high goal outdoor polo all across the West Coast.
The club's number one goal is to support players in a safe, fun and competitive playing environment.
Arena polo is often labeled as rough and hard on horses. “At OC Polo, we are striving to change those perceptions. We encourage our players to invest in horses and care for them as if they were headed for the US Open. We umpire our games tightly and expect our players to play in a way that is competitive, while still being safe and enjoyable for everyone, horses included. In our world, horses always come first,” said a club representative.
“Arena polo is evolving and we are on the forefront of change. Our venue is like no other for the audience, as we have invested in special footing that is low dust, safe and high-grip for the ponies, and creates a smooth playing field. The Jumbotron helps keep guests focused on the game. In an arena setting, spectators can be up close to the action in a way that gets them fired up and piques their interest. The excitement of arena polo often leads them to give it a try themselves in the polo school."
Polo at OC Polo OC Polo offers year-round turn-key polo for all levels. While the club does not offer horse rentals for club chukkers, they have lesson horses for the polo school. “We have found that this method creates polo players who are invested in the sport. Players must purchase their own horses and we provide full-service horse care. We manage all of the grooms, horse care, exercise, vet work, etc., so that the owners know that the horses are well cared for without the headache of self-management,” noted a club representative. OC Polo also curates a number of trips throughout the year for their members to play and watch polo at other clubs around Southern California. “We recently purchased a property near Eldorado Polo Club in Thermal, CA, in order to expand our member’s playing opportunities. In addition, we do a lot of fun non-polo related activities with our horses - like cattle sorting, beach rides and local trail riding. We look forward to returning to Argentina for the Open this year.”
The Season at OC Polo OC Polo has organized the Pacific Coast Arena League for many years, working in conjunction with other local clubs. They also hosted the National Arena Amateur Cup in 2019, with local teams competing with players from Texas. Other smaller USPA tournaments have also taken place post COVID, and the club is looking forward to 2022 being their best tournament season to date. This year, two major USPA tournaments are relocating to the West Coast and will be hosted at Orange County Polo Club. This year's the National Arena Challenge Cup was played last weekend, featuring four teams: OC Polo, Top Guns, HYT Polo and Lakeside Polo Club. The final match was played in front of a large crowd on Memorial Day, with HYT Polo taking the win over OC Polo. The Pacific Coast Circuit Arena Challenge Cup ran concurrently with the National and had an additional 4 teams in that tournament. OC Polo will host the national USPA Women’s Arena Open between September 23rd - 25th, 2022. This is the first time this tournament will be played on the West Coast. “This will be a ladies' 12-14 goal handicap tournament, and we are hopeful that we will get some women from out of state to come join the fun and competition.” The marquis event of the 2022 polo season is the first annual Silverado Cup which will be played October 21st - 23rd, 2022. This tournament is a United States Polo Association (USPA) sanctioned arena polo tournament, played with both amateur and professional polo players in Calcutta format. The format has its roots in a tournament originally hosted by OC Polo Club in 2006, when OC Polo was located at the El Toro Marine Base. “We affectionately named it, the Shady Lady Invitational and Jockey Lovers Cup, referencing our clubhouse ‘bar’ - at the time located in a Tuff Shed.”
“More than 15 years later, participants from the Shady Lady still talk about what a standout event it was, so we knew we had to bring it back in a new and improved format.” On Friday night, all teams will be finalized with a draw at the VIP Party and sold in a Calcutta format. There will be three games played on Saturday. On Sunday, the three teams with the best record will battle it out in the Silverado Cup Finals in front of a large crowd. Following the final match, VIP guests will gather at the Clubhouse for the trophy ceremony and champagne toast. The Silverado Cup is an opportunity for players to get to play with professionals who truly care about player development. The focus of this tournament is to bring the amateur players into the action, all supported by the expertise of the professional players. The Silverado Cup perpetual trophy is a stunning 102.3-ounce sterling Sliver antique cup made in the UK in 1911. It currently sits in the clubhouse waiting for the 2022 winners and all who see it are hoping to be the first names engraved. The Silverado Cup will benefit Surf and Turf Therapy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides therapy services targeting traditional, functional goals using non-traditional approaches, like surfing, horseback riding and community-based activities.