Walking down a long country road, a silk Hermes scarf wrapped around my neck, and the wind in my hair – I could head the distant sound of polo mallets clapping. Over a tall cobblestone wall bay horses rushed along a bright green field; pounding hooves and cheerful voices echoed down the road.
Crossing from the street into the driveway I stopped and took in the scene. The large polo field to my left, a red wooden clubhouse to my right, about 200 meters away there was a group of 30 year old men standing by horses. A white Jack Russell dog came sprinting towards me with a polo ball (chucker) in his mouth, he dropped it at my feet and stared at me, anxiously awaiting my throw. I rolled the ball onto the side pasture for him.
Within moments Thea Louise Musæus May came riding up on her horse “Hey Brooke! I wasn’t planning to ride today but ended up having to help out Nick this morning, so please excuse my improper riding gear!” Polo cap, jeans, and sneakers aside – she could be a young Christie Brinkley double. She’s the woman behind the Norwegian Polo Club, the only polo club in Norway.
Inside the clubhouse, members of the polo club sat on directors chairs embroidered with the club’s crest, they clinked glasses while watching an international match on a flat screen TV. I heard a mix of English, Spanish, and various other European languages – the normal combination around equestrian sports. Thea’s mother held her and her husband Nick’s toddler, a pretty blonde girl with with big blue eyes – she has begun riding as well, on a miniature Shetland pony named Lightening (pictured below!).
The skies cleared, the sun came out, and the winds blew. I took my seat on a picnic bench. Thea waved to her son, and in Norwegian told him to come say hello. The thirteen year old boy came zooming over on an electric monowheel, “Hi, I’m Santino. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” We had a fun conversation about his life, his interest in horses, and his passions; he speaks Norwegian, Spanish, English, and French, and he acts! One of the Argentinian staff members called to him in Spanish, and he sped over on his monowheel, music blasting from his backpack, and they began practicing passing the polo chucker.
The Argentinian rider yelled out, “You know, Santino only started playing polo seven weeks ago… ” Earlier this winter while the May’s were in Wellington, FL, playing polo, Santino was intrigued by the monowheel Poroto Cambiaso (son of Adolfo Cambiaso) was riding and he asked Thea for one. She told him he could get the monowheel, but only if he gave riding a try. Within days Santino was in love with riding, and has been bitten by the horse bug.
The day fell into place, and I was enjoying the sunshine and horses. The gentlemen from the bachelor party had completed their morning ride, a fun event for all, and took seats in the clubhouse and enjoyed a spread of treats and drinks prepared by Thea. As the afternoon settled, and the bachelor party had left, I got to chat with the witty British man who had been entertaining these fellows all morning, Nick May, Thea’s husband. As a former polo player in the UK, once meeting the lovely Thea, they decided to settle in Norway. Polo has become their lives. Without many other competitive polo players here, Nick often flies in other professionals from around the world – with several coming in this week from the UK and Argentina to play.
Dressed in classic white pants, polo boots and a helmet, Nick and the club members hopped on the horses and galloped around for a quick ride.
Nick came over and said “Have you been on a horse before?” I replied, “Yes! Of course…” Within seconds he was tossing me into the saddle of his favorite mount, an ex-racehorse. He laughed at my grip on the double reins, and quickly gave me a polo demo, “Reins in the left hand, mallet in the right: forward and left is left, forward and right is right, straight forward is go, back is stop. Take him for a gallop!” I awkwardly trotted in a circle, then with his permission dropped the mallet, took two reins, and galloped down the stretch! Never in my life did I think I would be galloping a polo horse down a field, in Norway.
At the end of the day the horses were taken back to their stalls, the parking lot had emptied out, and just the May’s and the club members hung out to enjoy the rest of the match on the TV. When night falls all that is there is a vast polo field, a little wooden clubhouse, and sleeping horses. The camaraderie, passion, and beauty brought to life during the day is something that I’ve only ever seen achieved in equestrian sports and the May’s certainly have this magical touch here.
The May’s have created a wonderful place. With their home and weekday stables complete with an indoor in Fredrikstad, they work with both club members, have private lessons, and also host lots of group parties (bachelor, friend groups, families, businesses).
This coming Saturday, in classic polo fashion, there will be a magnificent polo event hosted here at their weekend event location in Moss, the Norwegian Polo Open. The event has picnic seating where groups of friends can lay out their own party in the grass, as well of different levels of VIP tickets along with an after party. You can be sure to brush shoulders with some of Norway’s biggest names in equestrian sports here.