Can Polo Unite The Classes And The Races On Barbados?

Bajan Reporter’s Ian Bourne Has Some Thoughts

“It was all very exciting and my wife loved it, she now understands my passion – unfortunately an unexpected emergency pulled us away, otherwise I would have been down there quite late, lemme tell ya!

I must add that unfortunately, there are still those out there who ban themselves from polo. I was at a watering hole a few weekends back when a young lady who is an indirect employee of Bizzy Williams was trying to get the crowd I was hanging with to view Waterhall action.

One of the wags there made the claim that polo is only now opening to show foreigners how kind and sweet all Bajans does get along. When the reality is we couldn’t even find those same matches a few years back. She tried to rebut them, she even asked me if I went talking foolishness again about my article, when I had to remind her most of them don’t even know I do that on the side when I’m home!

I see it more as a class issue than something racial, since with the kind of folk who do attend, you don’t have to worry about metal detectors at a chukka. The crowd is both black and white, but highly educated and fairly smart when it comes to making money and stretching it into a worthwhile future…”

… excerpts from Bajan Reporter article Barbadian Polo Finale: Women Whip Men Massively

The World Won’t Change Overnight, But Neither Is It Static

Ian Bourne is a big polo fan and lately he has been writing about some of the matches – but his articles aren’t really about polo, they are about all of us on this tiny rock.

Has polo as a sport changed from being the exclusive preserve of the ultra rich like Bizzy and his pals?

Perhaps not as much as the Piaget crowd would like to pretend, but the world do keep turnin ’bout hey.

Have a read of some of Ian’s polo articles and then see if you want to join a bunch of us lower-class types in the cheap seats at the next match…

April 15, 2008 – Barbadian Polo Finale: Women Whip Men Massively

March 3, 2008 – Old Barbadian Adage proves accurate: Chalk & Cheese – Separate Worlds in different Polo Matches, Part One

February 3, 2008 – South Carolina residents discover what many Barbadians have known for ages – Polo community very reclusive & exclusive


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Polo, Race, Sports

29 responses to “Can Polo Unite The Classes And The Races On Barbados?

  1. So Long

    This is all juicy stuff but you are coming too fast and furious with it. (I wish my wife would speak like that from time to time)

  2. nonsense

    I’ve only been to polo a couple of times but I like it – I can’t play croquet and can’t ride a horse so am always impressed when I find someone who can do both at once. It’s the social scene that irritated me. Too lilly-white, too many debutantes and too many people there to be seen. Still, I went to Waterhall for the first time about a month ago and although it’s not exactly Lemon Arbour, there’s a relatively decent mix of race and class. All united around a desire to drink heavily and parade around in fancy clothes. Polo won’t break down barriers in Barbados by itself but the fact that it’s increasingly integrated shows that, at least for the middle classes, things changing ’bout hey.

  3. yatinkiteasy

    Id like to see Goat racing come back. The new Hilton beach is big enough.Tourists love it, and it could provide some partime income for some youngsters, plus some good old fashioned a very low cost.

  4. reality check

    cricket appeals to all who do not have much money

    polo has too high an entry level cost

    it will always be limited unless COW or someone pays for five or six young men from each parish and finances the horses.

  5. reality check:polo has too high an entry level cost

    it will always be limited unless COW or someone pays for five or six young men from each parish and finances the horses.

    That is why in one of my articles, I spoke of a Polo Scholarship…

  6. townecrier

    Polo will always remain an elite sport, until the saying comes true “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. Think about it.

  7. Adrian Hinds

    Ian Bourne is a BIG polo fan. schuupppsseee

  8. Sad To Say

    I have never been to and will never go to polo… I see it this way:

    a) The attendees for the most part are a bunch of hypocrites with false smiles believing that they have arrived
    b) By opening up to John Public it a smart way implemented by those playing polo to have their passion subsidized
    c) While the crowds may be mixed the teams remain predominantly of one colour. And this is not going to change anytime too soon
    d) I can think of many better things I can do with my Sunday afternoons

    Long and short polo will not unite the races and classes of Barbados. Let us return to the drawing board.

  9. Sad To Say; you are proof that there are certain segments of Bajan society who ban themselves from polo instead of investigating for yourself, if you would only be brave enough to go and see what’s the fuss then you’d learn there is some fun and excitement out there.

    I went to polo expecting classism, racism & snubbery… But then I said, how do I know? I have to see for myself! For my view, it looked as though it happened at Waterhall (read the comparison between there & Lion Castle) but not the other venues.

    In South Africa, there ARE black polo players, it is done under a scholarship system – why can we not lobby for a similar initiative here?

    Cricket and Police used to have many white folk, it can be said that black Bajans are prejudiced in that they don’t want to see caucasians at a dub fete – the honest thing is if some walked in? We’d be surprised but talk to them like anyone else!

    I can assure this kind of adaptation from an incident at a popular sousery I go to almost every weekend – a Blonde gal from Texas sashayed in and everyone went quiet like them Old West pictures where the stranger eases into the saloon, but then folk relaxed asked questions and went back to their regular liming.

  10. iWatchya

    I seem to remember there being bleachers at Holders polo ground, around 20 years ago. Weren’t they set up for the average spectator?

    Some family were told me that they used to watch Polo at Holders years ago.

    Maybe it was the clubhouse that was only exclusive.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  11. Eddie

    To: Ian

    Ian, I think you are wrong on this matter (I usually agree with your sentiments).
    Reality Check is right – the entry level is too high for the average Barbadian.

    Please, I am not pushing racism in any form, but if we really want to see integration, it must be seen in sports like: cricket, athletics, football etc, where there is mass participation.

    It is quite amusing to see Bajan whites posing among themselves in sports where their true potential cannot be tested.

    It would be joyous to see our Bajan white Brothers and sisters integrate a little more.

  12. Technician

    Amm Ian …could it be that because of your reputation and the impact of blogs today , that you were made to feel welcome? Just had to ask.
    I have been to many liming spots on this island and I am yet to see any integration of the people. True, you will find both races at these spots but a closer check always reveal them in little groups…reminds me of the myth ‘Separate but equal’.

  13. Bush tea

    This is so typical.

    You withdraw from all of the NATIONALLY accepted areas of sport, set up your own enclaves where your money provides an advantage, and then you seek to make that into THE national sport.

    ….and allegedly intelligent bajans seek to justify and support that attitude.

    Car racing, Golf, Polo, Dressage and ‘Show Jumping’ etc, …… these are not broad based sports. These are class-based enclaves established to espouse an aura of superiority – albeit based on wealth.

    When these people decide to make a determined effort to become part of the NATIONAL sports culture, representing themselves in a broad area of ‘regular’ sports (like cricket, football, table tennis, badminton etc), and assisting in raising standards with their wealth, connections and marketing connections, then I would be similarly interested in watching their fancy sports.

    ….I don’t know what Ian Bourne is on about…. I always felt that he was ‘one of them…’ no wonder he is hooked.

  14. Bush Tea? If I offended you, I hope it stung good and proper, I meant every word and hope it still bugs you, LOL! Your argument of why I hold the position I do reminds me of when either of my parents were annoyed I may have supported the other one, and so therefore they asked me what am I smoking or if I have been brainwashed, etc – instead of accepting I have a mind of my own and can reach conclusions at my own deliberation for whatever reasons.

    Seriously, I am not trying to uphold one side or another, but how can I be seen as favoring whites if I call for a levelling of the playing field with a scholarship?

    Indeed, there are many rich black Barbadians who can easily make it simple for all sides to compete in their own right – the Chief Justice Sir David and ex-Senator Andrew “Proper Pork” Bynoe among a few – do they not own horse that run at the Garrison? Polo steeds have dual duties of Garrison and the chukka.

    I am also curious why neither the BDF nor Police have created their own chukka as both have cavalry divisions, correct? There are UK & US Military Polo divisions…

  15. Sad To Say

    A polo scholarship will not level the polo field in any significant way… This will be yet another form of tokenism while trying to get the masses to believe that “the cheque is in the mail”.

    Food for thought: If a soon to be octogenarian can be one of the most celebrated players on the local polo scene this means that horse and equipment must be the prime factors that determine success in this “exclusive” sport.

    I estimate that it would cost an individual upwards of 100K (bare bones) to be competitive in this “expensive” sport. The equipment list include but is not limited to:
    1. Horses (x2 – extra for rest/ injury)
    2. Playing equipment
    3. Protective equipment
    4. Stable(s)
    5. Trailer

    NB: It cost a minimum of $1,200/ month to maintain (feed/ house/ vet fees/ etc.) to upkeep a polo pony.

    Hence, how can such a sport ever be a national sport? The only time/ place that the average Bajan will be allowed to participate is “beyond the boundary” of the polo field.

    There are some interesting cultural/ psycho-sociological implications. The masses worship (yes we do worship our great sportsmen) these “great men”. Furthermore the money generated from sponsorship/ admission fee/ the bar goes to subsidize the cost of the sport. Unlike the polo players a lot of the attendees at these polo matches are living from one pay check to the next.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the above business model, however, what I find amazing is that so many “poor ass” Bajans have allowed themselves to be sucked into this polo frenzy.

    It should be noted that this drive to make polo into a sport with an increasing mass appeal is not limited to Barbados and in other parts of the world that it is taking place the reason is entirely economic. These non-benevolent polo players are not capable of seeing beyond the almighty $.

    Ian Bourne by accident or design (I believe the former) has found himself fulfilling the role of selling the sport of polo to those of us that frequent the blogsphere. Sorry, I will not be caught subsidizing this “rich mans” sport furthermore I will not be caught knobbing with the pretentious folks that flock to such a charade.

  16. Bush tea

    Come on Ian,
    What offend what?!?
    ..the only thing that can offend Bush tea is adding cream to it…

    Just a slight correction though. Note that I said NOTHING about white or black.
    For your information, when I classified you as ‘one of them…’ I obviously meant WEALTHY.

    … I must admit to being fairly offended by the idea that we should take polo seriously, and disappointed that you would allow yourself to be the Judas looking mislead poor Bajans (even if you genuinely like the sport and fit well with the rich crowd).

    With respect to the fact that CBC could find themselves down there so often, when we cannot see anything but short unimaginative clips on our mass sports) …..NOW THAT is scandalous.

  17. Rumplestilskin


    Did you see goat races at the old Hilton then?

  18. yatinkiteasy

    …yes, which reveals my age was real honest to goodness fun..people would place low money bets, the tourists were encouraged to race the goats, with some being puled through the sand before they let go the rope….just wish I had a camera, but in those days, that was a beyond the reach of a youngster…I wonder if anyone has any photos? Perhaps Willie Alleyne, or the sons of Frank Watkins (Beach gate Images)
    I saw crab racing in St Maarten recently, but it cant be compared to Barbados goat racing!
    Perhaps Richard Hoad could be involved…Lowdown.

  19. Sam Gamgee

    yatinkiteasy, ask the min of tourism about it and see what you come up with. You never know.

  20. CBC’s coverage IS horrible and the commentary awful – any wonder why I left? Any change I suggested was the Antichrist on stilts, I was Buck Rogers from the 25th Century trapped in the medieval Inquisition…

    But me WEALTHY? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…. Oh man, ya made me night!

    If I really was as wealthy as ppl feel? I would not be working at all, maybe not blogging or even bothering with silly assumptions like that, I’d just Virgin Upper Class it off to Mauritius or something…

    Please, come with something NEW, ok?

    But no one has taken up the points made on Sir David or Mr Bynoe, far less the Police or BDF’s cavalry units?

  21. Now Now

    Bush Tea

    Have you ever attended Dressage or show Jumping.. I suggest you like Ian Bourne do some research and you will see how wrong your are. Ian B maybe you should do a similar thing as with Polo

  22. Wait i use to watch polo down at Holders, as little boy. In fact i use to frequent Sandylane playing shuffle board wid de tourist. I was about 12 or 13 at de time. But can somebody tell me the difference between Horse Racing and Polo? Wuh nuff Bajans does go to tuh de races at the Garrison so why duh can’t attend a Polo match? Maybe it is the location. Holders field was in de heart of a lot of well tuh do houses, so maybe that is why people didn’t feel welcome. I don’t know how or where the new Polo field is located relative to housing, but if um aint suffering from location stress like Holders then what is the problem?

  23. cooligan

    its a class thing. Many of the persons going polo are professionals who think they have arrived. Let me be fair, I would have no problem going to polo and “subsidizing ” the game IF the friends (white or otherwise) who invited me would be willing to spend a day at a local cricket club or rum-shop. I have a problem with blacks and locals supporting sports where there are significant barriers to entry and competition. Take motor sports; Its an area for some of the wealthy whites to play fast car. If the businesses who sponsored cars gave their sponsorship based on how well you drove or how often you won then it would be fine with me but i dont think that happens. Its so interesting that in other countries whites compete and form integral parts of Football, cricket and basketball teams. Whites here love those sports as well. Check out the sports bars when the Euros or playoffs are on or International Cricket is in Barbados yet they shun playing any of them. “poof” there goes any talk of integration.

  24. Bush tea

    Now now, ‘now now’… Let me tell you that I too used to be at show jumping and polo at Holders Hill. (wait Adrian I mussie know you yuh). Also I know more about Dressage that I care to explain now, (cause I frighten for the Carl Moore types…)

    I won’t repeat it, I think Cooligan explains my position expertly above.
    …class based enclaves. In fact I will say this without fear of intelligent opposition…..
    If and when Ian gets his wish, and the masses join in these polo fun and games, the moneyed class will be found playing their new sport – ‘sky writing’ using old USAF fighter jets available at $2.8Million each, while ordinary bajans will be playing their polo probably on jackasses…

  25. Georgie Porgie

    Why dont you guys let de white people play dem polo by dem selves?

    They used to play cricket and football and tennis once and when the blacks started to dominate these games, they backed out.

    When last have whites represented the country in any of the above sports. Maybe Mark Sealey in 1990.

    There was a time you could not play for Wanderers or Pickwick if you were not white…..until the seventies when they could not field first eleven teams from among themselves.

  26. Liberty

    Bush tea, cooligan, georgie porgie you articulate my thoughts. I noted the white boy Mark Wright(spelling) winning at Carifta and was happy for him and Barbados. I hope he doesnt turn his back on track and field for race based polo or yachting.Whites complain about discrimination against them by blacks but they make absolutely no effort to mix with blacks. Mass based sports is an ideal place for whites to get involved and show they are not seperatists. Polo is for obscenely rich people. The horse food alone costs more than many folks earn. As Bt notes if blacks get involved in polo whites going sell their nags and take up sky writing.LOL>

  27. Sad To Say

    Can I conclude by stating, Ian is flogging a dead “polo” horse. Let us move onto to other (greener) pastures – cricket/ football/ hockey/ etc.

  28. cant believe my eyes

    On the topic of football sad to say BFA president Ronald Jones must go. I cant believe Jones is begging Trinidad to host B’dos return game against USA. What about home court advantage and Bajan fans Jones you joker? This unecessary and demeaning turn of events is more embarassing than the two ballers failing drug tests.

    I am sick and tired of Jones although I backed him in his ding dong battle with the power hungry Randy Harris. Harris was a pawn of the then ruling BLP. Jones must go and let a younger, fresh administration take over. I dont mean the recycled hacks he currently has with him like Hally Haynes, Levere Richards, Husbands , Barrow and so on.

    Jones should be ashamed of the non construction of FIFA sponsored stadium. Now he is asking for half million dollars. What half million what Jones? FIFA gave you millions which you refused to use and they took it back. The puerile, backward, petty nonsense operations of the BFA is mind boggling. The game and its most important stakeholders the players and fans suffer big time as a result.

  29. As a young person who has been only involved in some of the more popular sports like cricket, football, road tennis (my favourite) it is nice to see that some people are trying to re-introduce and promote the polo sport. But the sad reality is, that polo will never be able to attract people unless some way is made for the ‘average’ bajan to participate. I mean come on….. the sport only brings together people who are of a certain class, because of the expenses along with it. Its easier for me too cut out my own road tennis racket, paint the court, and round up ten guys to play, than it is for me to take a trip to the polo field!!!