Women in Polo, 1906

“In the colonies, hitherto, with the exception of a few isolated instances, polo has been totally appropriated by the sterner sex, who betray little or no regard for the pleasures of the other fellows’ sisters or cousins with respect to the game. It is true that some few ladies play polo in Australasia, but a very few. In the land of the gymkhana the case is different, and nearly every lady who rides can use a polo stick fairly well. And they can all ride well, a remark that applies even in the hunting field, but very rarely on the polo ground.

“In India, a latent chivalry obtains among the civil and military element in station life, who strive to make existence pleasant for the softer sex, and therefore their ladies have been initiated into the joys of polo gymkhanas, with the result that there is the very keenest enthusiasm apparent among their womankind over the many tournaments held yearly, and there is a camaraderie between the two sexes that makes for the most perfect sport and enjoyment. By this means ladies are afforded a certain amount of physical exercise and a great amount of honest pleasure and fun, that both help to make them strong against the insidious attacks of jungle fever, and also to relieve the deadly monotony which is one of the incidentals to a country life in India.”

— From “Polo and All About It” by F. D’A. and Charles De L’Isle in The Pastoralists’ Review, April 12, 1906

Women in Polo

Eliza_Lynn_Linton_by_Downey

“The prettiest woman in the world loses her beauty when at these violent exercises. Hot and damp, mopping her flushed and streaming face with her handkerchief, she has lost that sense of repose, that delicate self-restraint, which belongs to the ideal woman. She is no longer dainty. She has thrown off her grace and abandoned all that makes her lovely for the uncomely roughness of pastimes wherein she cannot excel, and of which it was never intended she should be a partaker. We have not yet heard of women polo-players; but that will come.”

— Eliza Lynn Linton (shown above) from “The Wild Women as Social Insurgents” in The Nineteenth Century magazine, October 1891

“Some damsels, too, were present, who were really quite enthusiastic, and who not only wanted to know the names of ponies and players, but even said it was ‘an awful shame that women could not play polo!’ Women do most things nowadays, for have we not lady doctors, lady lawyers, lady gardeners, lady tea-planters, lady cricketers, and the latest development of feminine talent, lady commercial travellers; but really the line must be drawn at polo, though the sight of two damsels hustling each other would perhaps be edifying!”

— J. Moray Brown from “Polo in May” in Baily’s Magazine, June 1892.

And so, some edification for Mr. Brown:

Ed 1

Courtney Asdourian of Catena USA backs the ball underneath the horse of Maureen Brennan of Northern Trust, at the 9th annual Women’s Championship tournament in Wellington, Florida.  Photo by Scott Fisher.

Ed 2

Three polo photos by Mark Crislip

Ed 3

Camila Rossi at a tournament in Pilar, Argentina.

Ed 4

Yamila Natacha Ruano, 2010 Ladies Polo World Championship at Cañuelas, Argentina.

Ale Barbieri Argentina

And one more for good measure, by photographer Ale Barbieri of Argentina.