There is a running joke at my local polo club that I enjoy my horses like I like my men, tall, dark, and mules! It is not a secret that my life long dream is to train a mule to actually play a good game of polo, and while researching if anyone has actually ever tried this, I cam up with an even more interesting story on the first woman polo player Sue Sally Hale.
Sue not only played on a string of paints, and mules, she also was a top rated polo player disguising herself as a man to play tournaments that women were not aloud to play. For twenty years Sue tucked her hair in her helmet, taped her chest down, and used makeup to make it look like she had facial hair, Sue played under the name A. Jones, and quickly galloped off the field at the end of the final chukkar for fear of being caught.
In 1957 Hale was invited to play at the Will Rodgers Polo Field, the only remaining polo field in LA county, but was forced to leave when the opposing team refused to play against a female. This happened several times as she was invited to play at clubs, but not permitted to compete in tournaments. It was not till 1972 after Sue’s friends informed the USPA that they were having a woman play under their nose for twenty years, that Sue Sally Hale was accepted in the USPA as the first woman polo player!
Sue passed away in 2003 in her polo ranch in Cochella, CA but her legacy lives on in every woman who picks up a polo mallet! I am honored that there is so much polo history on the very fields that I frequent every weekend, and sometimes I forget the struggles woman have had to even compete on the field. I know now that next time I strap on my pink knee guards and put my pink wraps on my favorite warrior horse, I have Sue Sally Hale to thank for the struggles of ending segregation in the US polo fields!