Polo, other stops on Saturday tour
KEARNEYSVILLE — Polo might be a foreign sport to many people in Jefferson County, but the owners of Mountain View Polo hope Jefferson County Farm Day can change that.
[cleeng_content id="568485627" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]The farm where Laura Goddard and Hugo Pasten train both horses and people to play, along with two other equine-based businesses and the home of the country’s chief stink bug research will play host to the self-guided free tour, now in its 12th year. The event is set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contrary to popular belief, polo is a sport that anyone can play, Goddard said.
“I want people to see the sport,” she said. “It’s not for the elite.”
At least it doesn’t have to be at Mountain View.
“You don’t have to have any riding experience,” Goddard said. “We’ll teach from the beginning.”
Goddard and Pasten offer classes for adults as well as summer camps and classes for children ages 8 and up – and all anyone needs are long pants and boots with heels. Everything else, from the horses to the helmets, is provided.
The sport has a draw even for those who aren’t playing. Adult practices held on Sundays at 6 p.m. are open to spectators.
“A lot of people come and watch polo, have a picnic,” Pasten said.
Goddard grew up with horses but was introduced to polo as an undergraduate at Cornell University, where she spent four years on the school’s team.
“It’s an addictive sport,” she said.
She went on to develop a lesson program and help coach at University of California, Davis, and operated a polo school in Maryland before moving to Jefferson County in 2010.
Pasten, a native of Chile, is a former professional polo player.
The two started their business on Falcon Ridge about two years ago, Goddard said.
Its location near Charles Town Races & Slots has perks. Many of the horses that Goddard and Pasten train, both for use in lessons or to sell, come off the track, giving the animals a chance at a second career – or even second life.
That the business is young was one benefit of having it as a stop on this year’s tour, according to Farm Day organizer Jane Tabb.
When Tabb originally came up with the idea of inviting the public to visit local working farms, the main goal was to allow farmers and their not-always-friendly neighbors to gain a better understanding of each other, according to Tabb.
“I thought it would be a good way to get the public onto farms,” she said. “Most people are a couple generations away from being exposed to farming.”
Twelve years later, the event has become a tradition in the county, and specialty and niche farms have sprouted up along with the popularity of farmers markets.
Mountain View Polo – a 33-acre farm that 17 horses currently call home – is an example.
“I just think it’s very interesting, having only seen polo on TV,” Tabb said.
During Farm Day, from 10 to 11 a.m. spectators will get the chance to watch Pasten training “polo ponies” in the 300-by-100-foot arena that offers the mountain views for which the business is named.
From noon to 1 p.m. adult practice will be open for the public to watch, followed by demos and scrimmages until 5 p.m. during which the public will get a chance to try out a mallet for themselves, on foot only.
That two other Farm Tour stops also predominantly feature horses makes this year’s event exceptional, according to Tabb.
At Dubble ‘R’ Farm, where Suzie Binns raises racking horses, donkeys and miniature horses, pony rides and face painting will be featured on tour day.
O’Sullivan Farms, on Earle Road, boasts being the state’s oldest and largest thoroughbred farm. On tour day, visitors will be able to check out the paddocks where newborn foals and their mothers are housed. Finally, the Appalachian Fruit Research Station on Wiltshire Road in Kearneysville rounds out the tour with limited hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Stations set up within the building will demonstrate the different kinds of research being done at the facility, Tabb said.
For more information about the 12th annual Jefferson County Farm Day, go online to www.jeffersonfarms.org or look for the event on Facebook.
Want to Go?
What: Jefferson County Farm Day
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, or 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station
Where: Visit any or all of the four farms on the tour in any order, including:
n The Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 2217 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville
n Dubble ‘R’ Farm, 482 Steptoe Road, Summit Point
n Mountain View Polo, 261 Falcon Ridge Drive, Charles Town
n O’Sullivan Farms, 1504 Earle Road, Charles Town
For more information: www.jeffersonfarms.org, Vinemont@frontiernet.net, or call 725-4325