james armstrong, polo match harlinsdale farm

Local polo players and ponies, including a number of professionals will christen the new Tractor Supply Co. Arena at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm on Sunday, Oct. 25 with the inaugural arena polo exhibition match.

The Franklin Polo Academy, led by South African native and professional polo player James Armstrong, will be holding regular matches in the arena during warm months, and this exhibition match is a great way for the public to be introduced to the game.

The event starts at 1:00 p.m., and spectators are encouraged to bring a picnic and lawn chair. Catering & Events by Suzette will have a menu of picnic favorites available for purchase.

“Our local polo community includes some incredible players and horses, and we’re excited to share the game with the public,” Armstrong said. “This sport is often compared to hockey on horses, and it is a ton of fun to watch. In the spring, we will begin offering lessons and look forward to growing our footprint in Middle Tennessee through the Tractor Supply Co. Arena at Harlinsdale.”

Arena polo matches are typically four “chukkers,” or periods, of 7.5 minutes each. Three players per team (male and female) compete in the 100 yard-long by 50 yard-wide arena with 10’ by 15’ goals at each end. Horses and players are rotated in between chukkers, and each player has three or four horses ready to play. Polo ponies are typically thoroughbred/quarter horse breeds – ideal polo ponies show speed, stamina and agility, along with strong intuition and a calm disposition.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, the Jones Properties team will play the Harlinsdale Farm team, with a mix of amateur and professional players on each team. In the Harlinsdale lineup are two professionals, including Zulu Scott-Barnes and Ali Henderson, both of South Africa. Henderson is one of the top female players in America today.

Armstrong has been playing polo since we was 10 years old, immigrating to the United States at the age of 18 to pursue his dream of playing professionally. At the peak of his career, he was ranked in the top five percent of players worldwide, and he has been a part of winning some of the most prestigious titles in the game, from America to Argentina, South Africa and Spain.

Along with fellow teaching pro Stevie Orthwein, Armstrong and the Franklin Polo Academy plan to host polo clinics and lessons that allow interested newcomers to try the game first hand without the complexities of horse and equipment ownership.

“This is a physical, fast, action-packed game, played atop the ultimate equine athletes,” Armstrong said. “Whether you’re watching or playing, arena polo will get your adrenaline pumping.”

The Sunday, Oct. 25 match is free and open to the public. While the “sport of kings” is often associated with the high fashion of spring equestrian events, this exhibition is casual. Families are encouraged to attend.

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