Upper Arlington News

Polo pro to lead UA camp June 17-20

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Horace Henriot (front) leads a polo team in a USPA tournament at Granville's Bryn Du Mansion in July 2012. The primary field for lessons from Henriot's new business, Play Polo, will be at 5750 Clark State Road in Gahanna.

The Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department will team with a retired professional polo player next month on an introductory camp devoted to "The Sport of Kings."

"Play Polo" will be offered for the first time June 17-20. Registration is open for the camp, which is meant to be an introduction to the sport for children ages 8-12. The cost is $275 for Upper Arlington residents and $290 for others.

Registration information is available online at http://goo.gl/F4uje.

"We've done a variety of horseback riding camps for seven or eight years and nine times out of 10, they are sold out," said Cheryl Hyatt, recreation supervisor for the UA parks department. "It's unique, and the good thing is, they bring it here."

The polo camp will be held at Northwest Kiwanis Park and will be run by head instructor Horace Henriot.

Henriot is a native of Belgium and polo instructor at Play Polo LLC, a company with fields in Gahanna, which offers polo instruction and supplies polo equipment and ponies.

Now 36, Henriot started playing polo in Belgium as a boy and became a professional polo player in the United States at age 19. He has trained in Argentina with some of the world's best players and has played competitively in Europe and throughout the United States.

After recently ending his professional playing career, Henriot now is working to increase polo's popularity in central Ohio and beyond.

"We think polo is really exciting," he said. "I think it combines horses and a kind of ball-action sport.

"It has a team, but also the dynamic of working with an animal. I also like the fact it's not segregated by age or gender."

The Upper Arlington camp will teach basic rules, polo etiquette, polo riding and hitting the ball. Wooden horses will be used to help in training and instruction.

"Safe horses" and all necessary equipment will be provided, and no prior horse experience is necessary to participate.

"We'll bring about three to five horses," Henriot said. "We'll spend some time with horsemanship and with the game itself.

"The pinnacle is actually playing on the horses."

Participants can register for a morning camp, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, or an afternoon camp, which will take place from 1 to 4 p.m.

Hyatt said there must be a minimum of seven participants for each camp, but registration will be cut off at 14 per camp.

"We're going to run it Monday through Thursday (June 17-20) and use Friday (June 21) as a rain date," she said.

Henriot added that parents are invited to come and view camp activities.

"We want to introduce kids to polo," he said. "We also want to expose people to the sport."