January 2018 Issue - page 4

Page 4
January 2018
EAST COAST EQUESTRIAN
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By Stephanie Shertzer Lawson
Winston Churchill, who
played polo internationally,
famously said 'A polo handicap is
a passport to the world'. Bren-
nan Wells, who represented the
Maryland High School Senior
Plays Polo for the USA in India
United States at the 11th Manipur
Polo International Invitational
in Imphal, Manipur, India in
November, knows firsthand how
true that is.
Brennan, a senior at Hereford
High School in Parkton, MD,
and his sister Marissa are third
generation polo players whose
parents and grandfathers played
the game. In 2013 the Wells
family traveled to Zimbabwe
where Kelly and Marissa played
in a women’s tournament. In No-
vember Brennan and Kelly, who
runs Marlan Farms in Freeland,
MD, a polo school specializing in
interscholastic polo, traveled to
India, just days before Brennan’s
18th birthday.
Brennan had been spotted
by Ed Armstrong, manager of
the American International Polo
Foundation, at the US Polo Na-
tional Youth Tournament Series
Finals in Santa Barbara, CA in
early September. Armstrong
needed a two-goal player for the
team and was impressed with
Brennan.
The Manipur Horse Riding
and Polo Association, which held
the tournament, calls itself the
‘oldest living polo ground in the
world’, and Wikipedia reports
that polo has been played there
since the seventh century. The
British learned of polo during the
19th century while watching it
played in that area, which borders
Nepal and Mongolia.
Teams from the US, Argen-
tina, Britain, Morocco, and two
teams from India competed in the
ten-goal tournament. Brennan,
rated a two and the youngest
player in the tournament—the
player closest to his age was
23—was joined by professionals
Jorge Vasquez (2), Nate Berube
(2), Nick Johnson (3), and Kegan
Walsh (3). (The numbers in
parentheses are the players’ hand-
icap ratings—the higher the num-
ber the better the player. Players’
handicaps are added together to
get the team rating).
The polo club mounted
the players on Manipuri ponies
owned by local farmers in the
region who “seem to rarely play
polo” Brennan said. They are
tended by teenaged grooms who
help the players decide which
pony to choose.
(Continued on page 26)
Following the tournament, a game of no-rules traditional polo was held.
Brennan was able to catch the ball in the lineup and run with it in hand
while other players tried to knock it out of his grip.
Photo credit: Kelly Wells
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