Barbados polo is a team sport that is played on horseback and is identical to the version popularized by the British.
The game of polo in Barbados comprises of two teams made up of four players on each side, of either men or women.
Players use a wooden mallet to hit a plastic or wooden ball whilst on the horse’s back with the objective of the game being to score goals in the opposing team’s net.
A polo match is made up of what are known as “Chukkas”, each lasting 7 minutes, with a total of 8 chukkas in a game.
The game is quite frenetic and requires a lot of skill on the part of the players.
The History of Polo in Barbados
The history of the game of polo in Barbados can be traced back as far as 1884 when it was brought to the island by British cavalry officers.
In 1939, the first polo club in Barbados was formed at what is known as the Garrison Savannah, just outside the island’s capital. This club was called The Barbados Polo Club.
In 1965 the club was moved to its present location at Holders Hill.
Polo is a very popular sport in Barbados with the Barbados polo season running from December until April each year.
During this time many local and international matches are held at the four existing polo grounds on the island.
Polo Fields in Barbados
There are a total of 4 polo fields in Barbados of world class level to choose from.
Of these 4 polo fields, the grounds at Holders is one of the most popular and is located in the parish of St. James, on the western side of the island. These grounds are also home to The Barbados Polo Club.
Located atop Holders Hill, the polo field is surrounded by palm trees and open land with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea. Holders House is also close to the polo field and has strong links with the game, being home to the Kidd family, of whom several are polo players.
The Lion Castle polo field in Barbados is situated in the parish of St. Thomas, adjacent to the western parish of St. James, at the centre of the 64-acre Lion Castle Polo Estate.
Set amidst rolling hills and with luxurious properties all around it, Lion Castle is a prestigious field with a magnificent, modern clubhouse and is host to many international polo matches throughout the season.
The third magnificent polo field on the island is located at Waterhall, in the parish of St. James on the western side, and is home to the Apes Hill Polo Club.
This site is slightly elevated with very picturesque countryside views and an amazing background of the Caribbean Sea.
This polo field is also surrounded by 54 acres of lush greenery and many international teams such as Australia have played here.
The final polo field to be found in Barbados is Clifton. It is situated in the parish of St. James and was developed by professional polo player, Bruce Bayley.
The ambience of the polo field and the surrounding countryside at Clifton makes it the perfect setting for a game with a truly tropical feel.
Barbados Polo Clubs and Polo Estates
There are a number of polo clubs and estates in Barbados centerd around the polo fields in Barbados, each offering their own unique features and amenities.
The Barbados Polo Club
Based at the polo field at Holders Hill in St. James, The Barbados Polo Club is the oldest polo club on the island. This was the original club that was set up in 1884 and moved to its present location in 1965.
There is a modest clubhouse where visitors can view photographs and memorabilia of by-gone club days. Members and non-members are welcome at the matches held at Holders polo field and there is often a festive atmosphere accompanying the events.
The Lion Castle Polo Estate
The Lion Castle Polo Estate is a 64 acre luxury development in Barbados.
This estate is centered around the Lion Castle polo field and the magnificient Clubhouse, covering 20 acres of the development.
The Clubhouse at Lion Castle is located right at the edge of the polo field and truly is a site to behold. Designed by Architects Morrison Associates this is one of the most extravagant polo clubhouses in Barbados.
The Apes Hill Polo Centre
The new Apes Hill Polo Centre is based at the Waterhall polo field, also in the parish of St. James.
The surrounding land is a 17th century sugar plantation and has been made into 8 neighbourhoods of luxury villas and home, providing excellent panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
However there is an agreement in place that only one third of the land will be built on, leaving most of the 470 acres in its natural state.
There is an impressive, modern clubhouse at this Barbados polo club and the opportunity to take riding lessons or polo lessons, play Stick & Ball, enjoy a few chukkas or even a polo match.
Polo Tournaments and Events in Barbados
There are many local and international polo tournaments held on the island of Barbados each year with a variety of local polo events held at all four of the major polo fields in Barbados, throughout the entire polo season.
Local Barbados Polo Tournaments
One of the most polo local polo tournaments is The Barbados Polo Open. This is an 8 goal tournament, made up of a series of polo matches, usually held in the month of March.
Other local polo tournaments include the Tony Archer Memorial Trophy, Kearns Trophy, The Colin Deane Memorial Trophy and The President’s Trophy.
There is also the annual event of The Battle of The Sexes in which the male and female polo players clash, guaranteeing some explosive and exciting viewing for spectators.
International Barbados Polo Tournaments
International tournaments are played both at home and away against clubs such as the Potomac Polo Club, Cirencester Park Polo Club and The All Jamaican Polo Association.
In 2003, an International Ladies Tournament was also introduced, which sees some of the finest female polo players battling for the title.