Ralph Lauren features Barbados – Caribbean Chukkas make U.S. Fashion website
Sitting in the airy clubhouse adjacent to his world-class golf course is Sir Charles Williams, the founder of the Apes Hill Club resort and the man most credit with the recent efflorescence of Bajan polo. He describes himself as “possibly one of the luckiest men in the world.”
Sir Charles’s ancestors emigrated from England to Barbados in 1652, and he has lived on the island and played polo his whole life, captaining the Barbados Polo Club for more than thirty-five years. He describes the rough-and- tumble origins of polo in Barbados, when it was a pastime of the British cavalry who were based on the island in the late 1800s. The island became independent in 1966 but chose to be a Commonwealth realm, not a republic—Queen Elizabeth II of England is the head of state of Barbados.
This was a sentiment echoed by Jack Kidd, who has been playing professionally for the past twenty years, and whose family has a long association with polo in Barbados—they bequeathed the field at Holders. Kidd graciously offered a tour of his family’s nearby seventeenth-century plantation house, Holders House, where a mahogany center-staircase branches off toward bedrooms decorated with coral-patterned fabrics and priceless antiques. Kidd, who has recently opened a polo school at Holders in partnership with the Apes Hill Polo Club, has traveled everywhere in the world that polo is played but thinks the quality of the Bajan horses just gets “better and better” and that the island is “one of the most special places in the world for people to come and relax—it’s perfection.”
The writer also took a lesson with the permanent tutor of Apes Hill who had her feeling like a pro in the flick of a mallet;-
After hearing such raves about the island’s ponies, I decided to try one for myself. Neil Dickson, the resident instructor at the Apes Hill Polo Club, was happy to help. Dickson coaches tourists and locals alike — from absolute beginners to experienced players—and after cantering around the field alongside me, to make sure I was a good enough rider, he sent me off to hit some balls. My horse seemed to know what to do without my having to tell it anything: It recognized the subtlest shift of my weight as a signal that it should move left or right, and it positioned me perfectly next to the ball. Within minutes, Neil had taught me how to do a proper neck shot and showed me how to make my back shots travel twice the distance.