Jun 26, 2018 7:18 PM

Elizabeth Hedley

Brandywine Polo Club was a lucky club when they invited a clinician who lives two hours away to come teach a two-day polo clinic and she just happened to be available. Cindy Halle is exceptional. During her years at the University of California-Davis she won four women’s intercollegiate titles and then went on to coach at Garrison Forest School (Owings Mills, Maryland) for a total of nine interscholastic championship wins. Currently Halle stays busy certifying polo instructors as part of the USPA’s Certified Polo Instructor program, is a Certified Umpire, continues to play throughout the East Coast and was most recently presented with the 2018 USPA Woman of the Year Award.

When Cindy Halle turned left onto the drive at Brandywine Polo Club in Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania, to teach a two-day clinic, participants were thrilled to say the least. There is an art to teaching and Halle has perfected it. “I want to have each of you tell me what aspect of your polo you want to work on the most and what gives you the most trouble in games,” Halle began day one by asking.

Cindy Halle

According to Halle, the nearside shot is universally the most challenging shot for beginners and intermediates to master. Once mounted students warmed themselves and their horses up by riding a cavalry drill, paying attention to spacing and communication, they then hit some offside forehands, working on body position, rotation and follow through. To see if they were actually hitting enough to hit the ball straight, each student was asked to try and hit the ball all the way around the arena while keeping the ball along the perimeter on the off-side. Then they worked on the elusive nearside forehand and then did the same drill on the nearside. It was easy to see their challenges, but after a few more drills focusing on trunk rotation, head down techniques and straight arm follow through, it was enlightening to notice improvements in such a short amount of time. To lighten things up and work on communication, the students paired up as teammates and had a competition on how many goals they could score in three minutes, using both ends of the arena.

“Do yourself a favor, when you head out to stick and ball, make sure you practice what is difficult, not just what’s easy for you,” instructed Halle. “Warm up with your offside but make sure you work on what you are weak on. Just hit a couple of easy shots on the offside first, then when you switch over, you will be amazed. It’s all interconnected. The same head down, balance and follow through apply to every polo swing,” Halle advised.

Elizabeth Hedley

They ended the first day’s clinic with lunch under the club’s huge shady oak, listening to Halle’s rules review, complete with a simulated polo field and plastic horses, including a zebra to represent the umpire.

Day two began inside the polo office with students listening to constructive reviews of their videotaped swings and analysis of their riding techniques. It was great that each student was able to hear and see each other’s video, giving additional perspective and insight as to common good and bad habits. Hooking drills, ride off drills and coaching chukkers filled the rest of the afternoon, with an emphasis on natural aids for better horse performance. What was obvious throughout the two-day clinic was Halle’s honed teaching technique of explaining her points using several methods: visual, verbal and tactile. With the variety of students in age, skill levels and attention spans, she was smart to vary her communication styles. Another example of a seasoned clinician and a master at her craft. Brandywine Polo Club was very thankful for the two-day learning experience.

Brandywine Polo Club invites all to join in on an exciting 2018 season of 4, 6 and 8-goal polo, featuring the USPA Sunny Hale Legacy WCT Qualifier July 27-29 and the British Army Polo Match September 16. Go to for a complete schedule and contact Lory Eighme at for more information on polo lessons.

All photos ©Elizabeth Hedley