By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twin City Polo Club in Maple Plain is celebrating its 50th year of existence this summer.

Yes, that sport with the horses and mallets.

If you’re like most people around the Twin Cities, it isn’t the 50 years that catches your attention. It’s the existing part.

But not only is polo played here in Minnesota, you can too.

It’s believed to be the oldest team sport on Earth, with origins possibly as far back as the 6th century – B.C.

Enjoyed by English princes, Ralph Lauren models, and, apparently, a bunch of Minnesotans just a half hour west of Minneapolis.

“Yes, I get that all the time,” says club president Austin Figge. “‘Oh my god, I can’t believe there’s polo.'”

But there’s been polo for 50 years at the club, which has 15 – 20 members who play several times a week.

“That camaraderie with your horse is amazing,” Figge said. “To have an animal like that – a huge, powerful, fast animal – basically be in sync with you and will do what you ask and trust you implicitly.”

They’d compare it most to Minnesota’s other marquee sport.

“It’s almost like hockey on horseback,” Figge said.

With skates that know how to play.

“The longer they play, the more they kind of know,” Figge said. “They’ll know where the ball is, they’ll know kind of where you’re going to go.”

And they say the horses enjoy it as much as the humans.

“Some totally get into it,” he said.

The first time Figge heard about the polo club, his reaction probably wasn’t much different than most.

“I was like, ‘Come on, they don’t play polo around here,'” he recalled. “‘This isn’t England, you know? I’m not a prince.'”

But as Figge found out, you don’t have to be royal to ride. Turns out, the sport of princes is a lot more accessible than you might think.

“Hey, I was there nine years ago,” Figge said. “I come from a horse background, I came from the Arabian show horse world. And I was frustrated with judging … I was frustrated that it was difficult to compete when someone else was judging you. And so I was like, ‘Man, I really would like something with a time or a score.'”

So he came to the club, took like three lessons.

“And I was just totally hooked,” he said.

Stories like Figge’s are the reason the club has made it 50 years. Introducing new people to the sport is their lifeblood.

“That’s why we try to recruit,” Figge said. “We try to get new people to come out and try it.”

They’ll teach you to play if you’re interested. You don’t have to be in line to inherit the throne of a kingdom or anything.

“My wife comes from a polo family,” Figge said. “They’re definitely not princes or anything, but they work hard at it. If you can own and take care of a horse, you can play polo.”

Turns out, all you need to play polo is to want to. No coronation required.

“We have all sorts of beginners that start off with one or two horses,” Figge said. “We have a polo school where you come out and we’ll put you on one of our horses and you basically kind of rent the horse for the day.”

If you want to watch the Twin City Polo Club in action, they have a charity event this Saturday in Watertown.

For more information on that, or to learn more about trying it yourself, click here.


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