BIG HORN — Perk Connell still has the photos.
When the Flying H Polo Club was constructing its fields in the early 2000s, there was a junky, wire fence that separated them from the neighboring Big Horn Polo Club. So Connell’s husband and a few others from Big Horn Polo went over and took down the fence, and Connell snapped pics of the players working.
She captured the beginning of a great, symbiotic relationship between the two clubs.
“There is a very important synergy between the two,” Will Johnston, Flying H’s club manager, said. “They make us better, and we make them better. We’re better together.”
Now, the clubs help each other in a few different ways. Flying H’s staff maintains Big Horn’s fields, and Big Horn often serves as a training ground for Flying H polo ponies. Many of the players at each club cross over, too.
Four-goal player Gonzalo Teves is one of those, joining others like Carlitos Galindo, Steve Krueger, Miguel Novillo Astrada and Tom Sprung. Teves first came to Flying H more than a decade ago. He started playing at Big Horn about five years ago.
“It’s nice to be able to do both, with the clubs right next to each other,” Teves said. “The schedule allows you to do both. They’re equally enjoyable and equally important. I really enjoy and appreciate the opportunity and facilities. It’s a very unique setup.”
Flying H schedules its games for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. At Big Horn, games take place Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Johnston uses that as a recruiting pitch, telling potential Flying H players they could compete six days a week if they’d like. Teves said he usually suits up four or five days a week.
Big Horn offers a little more relaxed style of on-field action, lending itself well to breaking in new horses. Teves is using Big Horn to further develop some green polo ponies before putting them on the field at Flying H or elsewhere. Johnston has done the same. And on the flip side, Connell has seen some of the horses she trained and sold now playing next door.
“We’re friends,” Connell, Big Horn’s club president, said. “We all go to everyone’s barbecues.”
Flying H has only one weekend left in its summer season. Big Horn has two, capping the year with the 33rd annual Don King Days Sept. 5-6. That tournament will draw a bunch of players from Big Horn and Flying H.
“Everybody plays in Don King Days,” said Johnston, declaring his inclusion on this year’s roster. “It’s fun. Competitive.”
But after the players from each club stop being Don King Days rivals, they’ll go right back to helping each other out — tearing down fences, maintaining the fields, training new ponies or anything else. It’s all for the betterment of polo, Connell said.
“With the Flying H and Big Horn Polo Club together,” Connell said, “(Big Horn, Wyoming) is the destination place to play in the summer.”