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Polo in the Park

The 22nd Annual Polo in the Park, held on September 17, 2006, benefits Horses in California, Inc.'s James S. Brady Riding Program for Children with Special Needs.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Fiona Ma

September 25, 2006

"The outsides of a horse are good for the insides of a man!" said President Theodore Roosevelt and seconded by co-founders Hugh and Melba Meakin, of Horses in California, Inc. which has been bringing equestrian arts and events to San Francisco such as Polo in the Park, Jumping in the Park, Dressage in the Park and the "future" San Francisco International Horse Trials.

Hugh Meakin, Melba Meakin, British Consul General Martin Uden and Fiona Uden

The 22nd Annual Polo in the Park, held on September 17, 2006, benefits Horses in California, Inc.'s James S. Brady Riding Program for Children with Special Needs. This non-profit program has helped over 200 disabled and disadvantaged youths in the Bay Area since its inception in 1987. The program has helped children who suffer from autism, cerebral palsy, muscle weakness, sign and hearing impairment, learning disabilities, and social disorders.

Photo by Robert Foster

"The emotional and physical benefits of horseback riding to the disabled are profound. The students gain a love and respect for animals, better self-confidence, improved social skills, and a general sense of normalcy," relates Melba.

Polo originated in the Orient over 2,000 years ago. The Moghuls and Chinese brought polo to India where the British discovered it. The first polo match in Golden Gate Park was played at the Big Rec in 1898, between two local teams, the Whites and the Reds. Up through the mid 1950's, polo was played extensively in the park until the deterioration of the playing grounds. Today, Polo in the Park is the last remaining event in which polo is played on the Polo Fields in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Supervisor Fiona Ma throws out the polo ball to begin the match.

Guests enjoyed a lovely gourmet French Picnic, live musical performances, equestrian and drill team performances, vaulting exhibition, classic auto show, wine tasting and a Polo Match between the Rough Riders (Alexander Anolik, Richard Mansfield, Scott Malek, Skip Hunter) vs. the Aristocrats (Vladimir Rivkin, Juan Soto, Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff, Paul Griffin).

Melba and Hugh Meakin envision a time when the city would offer equestrian programs - riding, jumping, vaulting, dressage - to schoolchildren throughout the city and believes the perfect venues would be the Golden Gate Park Stables (closed for the past 5 years) and the (restored) stables at McLaren Park, demolished in 1957.

For more information on the James S. Brady Riding Program for Special Children, please contact Horses in California, Inc. at 415-221-9438 or by email at horsesinca@aol.com or visit Tea-Y-Tara Tea and Polo Shoppe at 6439 California Street (x 27th Avenue), SF. Wish List: Good Tack, 2 Pony Saddles, Mistral Special Saddle, 2 Bridles, Stable Rentals and Administrative Assistance.

Melba Meakin, Supervisor Fiona Ma, BART Board Director James Fang

Political Risk Broker Chris "Petrol Head" Hamilton, Fiona Uden, Sarah Meakin
and British Consul General Martin Uden

Photo by Robert Foster

Photo by Robert Foster

Photo by Robert Foster




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