TAILS FROM THE TRAILS
A day at the beach: sun, sand, surf and… steeds?
Yep, there were horses on the beach Saturday, Jan. 5. Specifically, the beach was Palm Beach Shores on Singer Island. And the horses were seven polo ponies and two miniature horses for kids to pet and enjoy. And what, you might ask, were the polo ponies (and the minis) doing on the beach? They were there as part of a fundraiser for Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue, playing polo on the beach.
It all started as the brainchild of Jill Wardle, a Pure Thoughts volunteer and Palm Beach Shores resident. She went to lots and lots of council meetings and talked to lots and lots of people.
“Originally, I envisioned something like an old-fashioned barbecue or a keg party,” Wardle said. “But it kept growing and growing, and finally progressed into this.”
Pure Thoughts President Brad Gaver has long been a polo enthusiast and regularly practices with other local players, some of whom were the other players in this quasi match/demonstration.
Kristen Brayden, another amateur like Gaver, brought two of her horses. Gaver brought three rescued Thoroughbred mares (Millennia, Chiquita and Panda) he has been using as polo ponies, and the two pros, Carlos Gonzalez and Alejandro Retamoso, brought two of their polo ponies. By 11:30 a.m., the four riders were mounted and riding around in an area cordoned off by yellow police tape. The “goals” at either end were marked by traffic cones.
Gaver briefly explained polo to the interested crowd of 200 to 250, and then the demonstration began.
Ever try running in deep sand?
Not only was it tiring for the horses, but the ball kept getting stuck. Then someone threw in a beach ball, and that worked a lot better. Happily, the day was overcast and breezy, so no one had to deal with hot sun.
Everyone had fun, even the people swimming by in the ocean. It’s not every day you get to watch a polo match while sitting on a blanket under your beach umbrella.
“I think this is just wonderful,” Palm Beach Shores resident Maura DeReuil said. “That’s the beauty of this town. You never know what’s going to happen next. I came down just to watch the polo. I’ve never seen it live before, just a little on TV. It’s fascinating, a peek into a whole different world. And it’s all for a good cause, to help save rescue horses who can be retrained to play polo or do all sorts of things.”
Which is, of course, the point. Horses can be trained to do all sorts of things, and many rescues enjoy new careers, like the ex-racehorses now playing polo. And the nice thing is, if you volunteer at Pure Thoughts, you get to be part of that retraining process. Heck, you can even learn to play polo.
In addition to the polo match, the nearby community center housed a variety of silent auction items: massage gift certificates, artwork, jewelry and Breyer model horses. There were hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, potato salad, chili, soda, beer and even champagne with strawberries.
Everyone seemed to be having a great time. Pure Thoughts raised $2,500 toward building a 14-stall barn at its new facility on F Road in Loxahatchee Groves.
“It was good; a lot of fun,” Gaver said. “A lot more people know about us now and want to help out. It was such a success that next year we’re planning on doing it again, bigger and better. We had a lot of community involvement and a lot of awareness.”
“I think of it as west meets east,” Wardle said. “Many people in the western communities know about us and are familiar with horses. Now we’ve brought horses to the eastern part of the county.”
It was a very successful event. Or, as someone said, walking over to watch the horses, “This is neat!”
For more information about Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue, call (561) 951-2108 or visit www.pthr.org.