A Montana Tradition: Cowboy Polo

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The origins of traditional polo aren't quite agreed upon, however one thing that is acknowledged, as the game was formalized and popularized by the British…a sport now often viewed as very high society, in Montana, Cowboy Polo has also been around for decades…and it's a little different.

"It's been described as Rugby on horseback.  You get a few bruises and stuff, bud at the same time people are pretty cautious to not hurt a horse, and general to not hurt a player either," says Horse Polo Competitor Doug Kopp.

It may be referred to as Rugby on horseback, but it's a family friendly event.

"Guys show up and they've got a girlfriend, and she plays too, so it's kind of a couple things, and it's really fun because you can go out there and beat up on your husband a little bit, but it's all in good fun, you go out and have a great time," says Horse Polo Competitor Dana Kopp.

It certainly gets competitive and there is plenty of contact, so just how do they keep the horses safe?

"There's rules designed so you can't run head on into other horses or run into them in a T-bone fashion, you have to be side-by-side with one another, Jockeying for the ball," says Doug Kopp.

Not only do you have to run on your horse and change directions, there's that rubber ball in the middle of the arena that is more commonly seen when playing dodge ball.

"You think it'd be really easy to hit that playground ball out there, but when you're riding full speed, and turning, and spinning, and trying to hit the ball, it's actually harder than it looks," says Dana Kopp.

For the Kopp's, their nine year old daughter Braden isn't allowed to play until she turns twelve, but she's more than ready when her time comes.

"Because I think it's just fun because you get to hit the ball around, and play against other people.  I get to practice with our polo team, but I don't get to play yet," says Braden.

And when you ask Braden how she fares against her parents and the rest of the adults, she's pretty modest.

"Sometimes they go a little easy on me, but sometimes they just let me score a goal, but usually I'm down on the end playing by myself," says Braden.

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