Over 120 Years of Polo in Sheridan
On the 4th of July, 1893, at the Sheridan Fairgrounds,
two polo teams calling themselves Sheridan and Beckton
squared off in what Editor Joe Debarthe described as
a wild scramble. Army scout and former Sioux tribesman
Frank Grouard umpired the game. Mike Evans (founder
of Tepee Lodge), George Beck (founder of Beckton) and
Captain Pete Stockwell (a British officer formerly stationed
in India) were among the players for Beckton and Bob
Brown, Estes Polk, and a Robert Nix played for Sheridan.
Over a thousand spectators witnessed the event.
In Dayton, Captain F.D. Grissell of the Ninth Lancers
had already established a polo pony operation on his
IXL ranch. Grissell had been a member of the first group
to bring polo to England from India.
In 1898 Scotsman Malcolm Moncreiffe moved from Powder
River to Big Horn and built a polo field and breeding
operation. He exported Wyoming-bred thoroughbred polo
horses and foxhunters to England and organized local
horsemen to play polo in Big Horn. Early rosters included
the names Spear, Cover, Sackett, Skinner, Wood, Roberts,
Burnet and Bard.
At the turn of the century, Moncreiffe, Bob Walsh,
John Cover and Lee Bullington won a tournament on the
lawn of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs that
featured several Army teams, a Denver team and a team
from Kansas City. During this tournament, local cowboy
John Cover was hailed as one of the top players in the
In 1915, Tommy Hitchcock, the greatest American player
to date, played at Moncreiffe field as a boy. Local
games benefited the Salvation Army, Red Cross and raised
funds for the Sheridan pool by passing the hat at half-time.
There was never a cover charge.
After the First World War, Goelet Gallatin formed the
Circle V Polo Company in Big Horn which was the premier
polo operation in the world. Their breeding foundation
was Black Rascal and Kemano. Broodmares were sent out
by international players such as Hitchcock, Von Stade,
Ambrose Clarke and Deveraux Milburn. Gallatin built
a barn in Aiken, South Carolina where the Circle V polo
horses were sent in the winter. In 1927 Oliver Henry
Wallop’s son, Oliver, won the National Collegiate
Championship for Yale.
In 1931, Cameron Forbes founded Neponset Stud Farm
in Beckton to raise polo ponies. Forbes invited teams
from all over the United States to play in the area
and a friendly rivalry sprang up between the old Moncreiffe
and Forbes fields. In the thirties, Tepee Lodge led
by Alan Fordyce played a series of matches against Bones
Brothers led by Little Bones Alderson. The Brewster’s
Quarter Circle U Ranch in Birney also fielded teams
at this time.
History repeated itself in 1948 on the lawn of the
Broadmoor Hotel. The Neponset team of Ken Schiffer,
Mike Long, Merrill Find and bill Gardiner won the National
12-Goal Championship match. By now, bloodlines of six
Kentucky Derby winners were in the area.
Polo stopped in 1952 until Bob Tate brought polo back
in 1963 with Malcolm and John Wallop, Kelly Howie, Doc
Connell, Ike Fordyce and a Tepee Lodge team.
In the early eighties the Moncreiffe field was sold.
A group of polo players established the Big Horn Equestrian
Center. The Big Horn Polo Club expanded to be one of
the three largest of over two hundred in the United
At the millennium two teams with their breeding operations
in Sheridan won the U.S. Open as Diet Coke and C Spear
brought home the most coveted trophy in North America.
2005 proved to be the zenith of a long history as the
Flying H Polo Club became one of the three summer clubs
in the United States to offer high-goal polo. Top international
players participated including eight U.S. Open winners.
This year high-goal continues with some of the world’s
best players at the Flying H.
Top left - Lee Bullington, Malcolm
Moncreiffe, John Cover, Bob Walsh
Top right - Mike Long, Merrill Fink, Ken
Schiffer, Bill Gardner
(Photographs courtesy of Sheridan Co.