About Us

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAKESIDE POLO CLUB

What’s the best-kept secret of Lakeside, California?  Nearly every weekend it hosts the fastest contact sport in the world: polo.  For the benefit of businesses, spectators and players, the Lakeside Polo Club has recently decided to “open this secret”.
Polo first came to Lakeside in the 1950s through the efforts of Admiral Eugene Hering, the most highly decorated combat surgeon in the U.S. Navy.  When he retired from the service in 1955, he acquired 30 acres of bare land on the eastern outskirts of Lakeside on which he constructed horse corrals and a polo field.  He later built his family home on a hillside overlooking “Hering Ranch”.
While serving as physician to the Lakeside community, “Doc Hering” managed ranch operations with the help of volunteers and other polo enthusiasts.  Known as the “home of affordable polo”, it’s become the oldest continuous polo facility in San Diego County.
1957 heralded Lakeside’s first major polo tournament, the Jess McMillin Memorial, which drew players from southern California and Arizona and continued as an annual event for years.  After the doctor’s death in 1987, his son Kip inherited the ranch and, with the help of an onsite caretaker, began overseeing operations.
In 2001 the Lakeside Polo Club was officially recognized by the United States Polo Association and has continued to host players from southern California and around the world who compete in fiercely contested matches.  In 2014 Nicole and Darin Bankhead purchased the property from the Hering family, renaming it “The River Valley Equestrian Center” and adding many improvements to the polo field and horse facilities.
Polo at Lakeside is played on a “hybrid field”, so called because its construction – 60 yards x 170, with four-foot fences and open goals – stands between that of larger fields and arena polo.  (The former are too big for spectators to spot the action and the latter are too small for long charges and chases.)  As a result, Lakeside’s field spurs both thrilling breakaway runs of large-field polo and skillful bank-shots and hard horse-bumping of arena polo.
Currently five major tournaments take place each year at Lakeside: the Margarita Invitational; the Hering Cup; the Pacific Coast Arena League Series; the National Youth Tournament Series; and “Poloween” – where both horses and competitors wear Halloween costumes.
At the River Valley Equestrian Center polo folks get to train their steeds alongside other equine enthusiasts.  Some people show their horses competitively, others take riding lessons, while a large number ride simply for pleasure.  Approximately 60 owners board 90 horses at Lakeside’s horse-friendly, family-friendly facility – the spot to play and watch exciting polo.
 

Welcome to Lakeside Polo Club, where we focus on spreading our passion for the game of polo. From beginners to professional, the Lakeside Polo Club team aim to tailor your polo experiences and make polo more accessible for all ages.

  

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT POLO

While the sport of polo is the oldest team sport, it’s origins go back further than recorded history and was most likely played by nomadic warriors over two thousand years ago.  
Mounted nomads in Central Asia played a version of polo that was part sport and part training for war, with as many as 100 men on a side. The game followed the nomads’ migration to Persia (modern Iran) some time between 600 B.C. and 100 A.D.
In Persia, polo became a national sport, played by the nobility and military men. The game was formalized and spread west to Constantinople, east to Tibet, China and Japan, and south to India.
Modern polo originated in Manipur, a northeastern state of India. The Silchar Polo Club was founded in 1859 by British military officers and tea planters, after Lieutenant Joe Sherer saw the locals playing polo and said, “We must learn the game!” From India, polo spread as fast as its enthusiasts could travel, appearing in Malta in 1868, England in 1869, Ireland in 1870, Argentina in 1872 and Australia in 1874.
On a trip to England, James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald, saw his first polo game. Early in 1876, he returned to New York with mallets, balls and a copy of the Hurlingham rules. The first game was played at a city riding academy; in the spring they moved outdoors to a field in Westchester County. That summer, the New York players took polo to Newport, R.I. Soon the galloping game was being played across North America.

TODAY’S POLO

Nowadays, polo is played professionally in 16 countries, including Argentina, England, Mexico and the United States.  Polo is played in two predominant forms: outdoor (grass) and indoor (arena).  The indoor variant is played by two teams of three per side on a football field-sized arena.  Outdoor polo is played by teams of four on a grass field measuring 300 by 150 yards – the size of 9 football fields.  Each game is divided into four or size 7 ½ minute periods called “chukkers” or “chukkas”.  It is easy to transition between indoor and outdoor play, and the majority of our members enjoy playing both.
Although the regulation height of a “polo pony” was originally capped at 14.2 hands, modern day polo ponies can be horses of any size.  The average height is roughly 15.1 hands.  Most modern polo ponies are mostly Thoroughbred by breeding and are sometimes crossed with stock breeds such as the Quarter Horse or Criollo.  Defining characteristics of a polo pony are speed, stamina, athleticism, intelligence and a love of the game.
We welcome you to Lakeside Polo Club, a so-called hidden gem, nestled in Lakeside San Diego California. Polo is one of the most exhilarating and contagious sports in the world. If you have been sitting on the side-lines and watching polo matches with a touch of envy then Lakeside Polo Club will get you into the saddle. It’s easy to start polo and become a polo player, we can guarantee you will love it. If you already have the polo bug, Lakeside Polo Club is the place where you can practice, improve and have fun.


River Valley Equestrian Center is the home of Lakeside  Polo Club. RVEC is a boarding facility that sits on 60 acres in the serene El Monte Valley in east San Diego. The facility boasts a grass, hybrid field with a beautiful mountain backdrop. This fall LPC is adding a polo arena for additional play with a focus on youth and an interscholastic program.
Whether relaxing in the Cantina after a fun morning of play on the field or an afternoon Trail ride through the valley, Lakeside polo is the place to be!


 

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