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Polo, anyone?

By REBECCA KONYA

June 6, 2011

Margie Paur traded in soccer for polo and now owns Hillside Farms, a horse farm and riding center in Richfield.


Often referred to as the "sport of kings," itís not surprising there are so many misconceptions surrounding the game of polo.

Margie Paur is doing her best to challenge those preconceived notions and bring the perceived "upper class" sport to suburbia.

"Polo is about horsemanship, teamwork and camaraderie," says Paur, who runs Hillside Farm, a 23-acre horse farm and riding center in Richfield with her husband, Tom Riegert.

Paur, an avid soccer player, took up arena polo in 2002 when her knees began giving her trouble. After buying Hillside Farm in 2005, Paur decided to share her love of polo with others, and started offering polo lessons to the general public. Today she has 13 polo horses in her stable and Hillside Farms holds weekly arena polo matches.

"Polo is like soccer on horseback," Paur explains. "It combines two sports that I love."

Last year, Hillside Farm formed an interscholastic polo team through the United States Polo Association. The program, open to youth in grades 5 through 12, teaches kids to ride and play polo. Team members travel to Indiana, Kentucky and the East Coast to play against other interscholastic teams.

"Weíre working hard to grow the sport in southeastern Wisconsin, and remove some of the stereotypes associated with it," says Peggy Daly, a Cedarburg resident who plays at Hillside Farm. "Itís not only a sport for the wealthy ó itís a sport everyday people can learn to play.

Paur says polo doesnít have to be the exclusive sport itís perceived to be. "You donít have to own your own horse," she says. "Itís not a huge expense."

Daly says thereís an interesting cross-section of people who play for Hillside Farm, from 10-year olds to middle-aged men and women. "We all play together," says Daly. "Polo is one of the few sports where younger and older people can play against each other. The horse is sort of the equalizer."

Considered an excellent introduction to polo, arena polo requires little instruction, with new players quickly learning how to improve riding skills and hitting techniques.

"Itís a team sport," explains Paur. "We start slow and progress in speed as players become more comfortable."


This story ran in the May 2011 issue of: