Lacrosse on horseback: Polocrosse!

May 22, 2008 1:34:53 PM PDT
The Triangle is fast becoming home to a relatively new and somewhat unusual sport that's very popular on the West Coast.It's actually a spinoff of the oldest team sport in the world. Enthusiasts say one reason it's catching on is that men and women, young and old compete on the same field, as long as they're riding a horse.

Polocrosse is fast, action-packed, very competitive and it's one of the fastest growing equestrian sports in the country.

It's basically lacrosse on horseback. "I think it's the most fun I've had on horseback", said David Thornton of Southern Pines. He started playing a couple of years ago with his 15-year-old daughter, Maura.

"My Mom got us racquets for Christmas and we just started going out there," said Maura. "I can tell you when we first started with the racquets, it was ugly," her dad jokingly added.

Now, they're pretty good, winning their division at this recent tournament in Orange County.

In polocrosse, two teams of three play eight minute periods called "chukkas". The goal is to pass and toss the ball through the opponent's goal, while defending your own.

Lacrosse-like racquets replace mallets in a scaled-down version of polo that enthusiasts say is much more affordable and every bit as exciting.

"This game is more side to side, stop and turn, quick acceleration," according to David Brooks who coaches the Orange County Polocrosse team and the United States Youth Team.

"If you love horses and you love competition, this is it", he said. Brooks added that polocrosse doesn't discriminate. Sex and age don't matter out here. Men compete with women and teenagers ride beside forty, fifty and even sixty-somethings.

"The horses are a great equalizer," said Thornton and that's why he believes polocrosse is also family friendly. "I love that I can play it with my daughter and be on an equal footing, if not at a disadvantage."

While it may seem a little scary to beginners, people play polocrosse at a range of levels. In fact, a lot of people who've never ridden a horse are trying it, starting out very slowly.

David Brooks offers beginner's clinics at his Farm in Hurdle Mills. For more information, go to www.orangecountypolocrosse.com or at www.carolinapolocrosse.org


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