Last Look


Yale’s longest-serving polo pony can be found in Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

Bob Handelman

Bob Handelman

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“I want them to understand that if they hit the wooden horse in the leg very hard, that’s OK,” says Liz Brayboy ’84, alumni adviser to Yale’s student polo club, “but if they hit a horse that hard, that’s a problem.”

Practicing their swings on the wooden horse in Payne Whitney Gymnasium—as Larry L. Bowman Jr. ’20PhD is demonstrating here—has been a rite of passage for Yale’s aspiring polo players since the gym opened in 1932. Brayboy says all beginners start in the “hitting cage” before being allowed on real horses out at the polo club’s new alumni-funded indoor arena in Bethany, Connecticut. “Around 12 undergraduates usually stick with it” and join the club team, says Brayboy; five to ten graduate and professional students generally take part as well, though they aren’t eligible to play on the team.

Brayboy looks back fondly on her time in the hitting cage as a Yale undergrad: “When something bad would happen, I’d go to the hitting cage to hit the crap out of the ball. It was a great relief.”

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