The origins of polo lie within South Western Asia with the mounted warrior horsemen. There are several references in the Great Persian Epics to the sport, with direct links to illustrations of the sport. The sport flourished throughout Asia until well into the 16th century; however, due to political and social change there was a decline in the sport.
The sport did survive in a few small areas within India, which is how the sport became so imbedded within the British Empire. This is also how the sport got a regularized set of rules for the game itself.
The sport of polo was brought over to the Eastern United States in 1876 and to Canada shortly thereafter.
The Calgary Polo Club was established in 1890, and its roots within the prairies grew quickly. In September of 1892 the first tournament was held at the club, The Calgary Cup Challenge. The trophy used in this tournament is still in use today.
The Calgary Polo Club is regarded as the longest lasting polo club in North America. This is due to it remaining in operation and the push to continue play throughout both world wars.
Today, polo continues to be played in over 77 countries with efforts being made by the International Polo Federation (FIP) to return it to the Olympics (played in the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924 and 1936). It is very popular in Argentina, England and the United States currently make up over half of the world’s players.
Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives
(left to right) George Ross, Frank Macnaghten, O.A. Critchley and Addie Hone were four of the finest players and patrons of the first era.