Written by Kaitlin Hill
The return of polo is a sure sign of summer in Hunt Country. And with so many ways to engage locally — as a player, spectator, beginner, or pro — there is something for everyone who loves the sport. In that spirit, Middleburg Life caught up with area players, Isabella Wolf, Justo Mouriño, Tom Wiseman, and his son William to chat about what drew them to the sport, what makes polo in this area so special, and how they would encourage others to get involved.
Professional horse trainer and polo player Isabella Wolf started her equestrian pursuits at an early age. “I started when I was 9 at Willow Run,” she shares, noting that polo schools are a great way to get your feet wet. “I started here and that is definitely how I recommend you get into it.” She continues, “You don’t [have to] have all the costs on you…Dip your toes in. You can play two chukkers if you want or you can play six. Whatever works for you.” Speed was a big attraction for Wolf, necessitating a switch from the jumper ring. She says, “I was doing jumping before but I wanted to go fast.” A former field hockey and lacrosse player, the team element was a big appeal of the sport as well. “I like being part of a team. It’s a contact, co-ed, equestrian sport. You can’t get much better than that.” Integral to all polo teams are the horses, and seeing them perform is an added reward. Wolf says, “Playing on the horses I trained is my favorite thing. When they make a goal or do something beautiful, you feel so proud that you have been a part of that process from the racetrack to here. I buy a lot of horses off the track and it’s really cool to see them transform. That’s definitely my favorite part.”
Originally from Argentina, Justo Mouriño’s introduction to polo was thanks to his dad. When asked how he got started, he shares, “My dad. He still plays polo in Argentina.” Mouriño is the professional for Greenhill Polo and a familiar face in Virginia’s polo circuit where he enjoys the Hunt Country landscape. “It’s a really nice setup,” he says. “It’s very green and reminds me of England.” As for advice for the polo-curious, he offers, “It’s a crazy sport that is going to take a while to understand. But it is a sport that everyone should learn a little bit about because it is very interesting.” He concludes, “It’s a really fun sport just to enjoy and have fun with friends.”
For Tom Wiseman, the president of Wiseman and Associates Wealth Management, the sense of community polo provides is the big appeal of the sport. He says, “It’s a community of great friends.” And adds, “It’s just a big happy family. We do these asados, you know, a big barbeque, and it’s huge.” With his son William in tow and in tack, it’s no surprise the impact of polo on kids is a favorite quality for Wiseman as well. “For the kids, it just opens them up,” Wiseman says with a nod to William. When it comes to getting started he says, “There are enough people around who will put you on a horse…Any kid can start to ride.”
And, William, aged 9 and not one to be left behind, offers his take on polo, agreeing with Wolf that the pace of the game is what makes it enjoyable. “I like going fast,” he says. He started playing at age 6 and highly recommends other kids give it a go. “It’s really fun, so just try it out or something.” ML
This article first appeared in the July 2022 Issue.