Horse Community Pulls
Together for Fun and Charity

October 28, 2008

Polo, arguably the
world’s oldest team sport, reaffirms the special bond between horse
and rider. This weekend, 21 adults and kids alike came together –
most of whom for their very first attempt at the game. The event was
a collaboration of the Polo Training Foundation
(, the Horse Park Polo Club
( and the Stanford University Polo Club
in a benefit for the Square Peg Foundation. (

The fantastic Indian
Summer weather of the San Francisco Peninsula graced the Silicon
Valley’s Horse Park at Woodside with clear skies and gentle breezes
for the entire weekend.

“We told everyone
to bring their sense of humor to the clinic and it looks like they
did.” said Chris Dunlap, co-Founder of the Square Peg Foundation
who also rode in the clinic.

Polo Clinic 08

“Polo was every
bit as fun, and not nearly as intimidating as I feared” said
Brian Greenen who told us that he had always wanted to try polo and
the weekend opportunity was a gift from his wife.

Instructor Wilbur
O’Ferrall put in two consecutive 10 hour days patiently helping the
riders learn strategy, safety and skills.

“Wilbur does a
great job with the kids. He makes the clinic fun and has great
delivery. My daughter Jennifer, who’s only 7, made some real
progress in this clinic in starting to learn the game” noted
Bonnie Crater of Portola Valley.

In between the 2nd and
3rd sessions, participants had the opportunity to watch the Stanford
Polo Club practice in the arena. Wilbur umpired the practice while
Coach Greg Wolff was on hand to explain the game to a very engaged
audience. Suddenly, the notion of “Man, Line, Ball”
started to make sense.

“I just wanted to
thank you so much for doing the polo clinic. Wilbur is so nice and I
have a lot of fun playing with him and everyone.” emailed 12
year-old Farris Scott of Los Altos.

Wilbur was assisted by
Greg Crosta, ranch manager for Square Peg Foundation, who also helped
students in the Horse Park hitting cage. Greg observed that “we
were so lucky to have someone as talented as Wilbur teaching this
clinic.” Talented indeed. Wilbur O’Ferrall is the Field
Director for the Polo Training Foundation as well as a USPA certified
Umpire. A polo player since the age of 10, Wilbur went on to play
college polo for the UC Davis team that won the Pacific Coast
Championship four years in a row. As team captain in 1989, his team
won the National Title. In 1990, Wilbur was chosen Male
Intercollegiate Player of the Year.

The clinic helped raise
$3,000 for the Square Peg Foundation’s adaptive riding program and
horse rescue in Half Moon Bay. At a time when fund raising is
difficult due to the nationwide economic downturn, the timing
couldn’t have been better.

All in all, polo
garnered a new fan club in the San Francisco Bay area and the horse
community demonstrated that it can collaborate to have fun and to
support a cause. Perhaps it’s best said in quoting a famous verse
inscribed on a stone tablet next to a polo ground in Gilgit,
Pakistan: “Let others play at other things. The king of games is
still the game of kings.”

Plans are already
underway for a Spring ’09 youth clinic that will target ages 7 to 17.
For more information, contact the Square Peg Foundation at
650.284.5064 or

photo caption

Instructor Wilbur
O’Ferrall poses with the clinic’s award winners (left to right)

Charlie Campbell, most

Lauren Morgenthaler,
horsemanship award

Jennifer Buja, spirit

more photos can be found for download at:
2008 Polo Clinic Photos

Regarding Eight Belles

Regarding the amazing filly Eight Belles

by Joell Dunlap

I was out on a trail ride with students when the Kentucky Derby ran this year. Upon our return to the ranch, I rushed inside to watch the replay of the race on my computer. Big Brown owned the race from start to finish and showed the world that we may have a true phenom on our hands. No surprise to me who has admired the colt for some time. The real treat was watching the valiant filly Three Belles chase the colt down the stretch as the other horses tired. I emerged from my office to tell my students that Big Brown was “the real deal” and that the only horse to be brave enough to give him chase was a fantastic dark gray filly named Eight Belles. I was gloating as I brushed my own haughty OTTB mare Gigi.

“Um, Joell, I guess you didn’t see after the race” one of the mothers said with veiled eyes. “The filly broke down after the finish and had to be destroyed.”

I couldn’t speak.

Continue reading “Regarding Eight Belles”

See Jane Ride

To everyone who helped make Saturday happen, my most sincere thank you. For those of you who put up with me all week, I don’t know how you did it.

Here’s photos:

As I sit quietly at the computer, my body is at rest and I’m doing my best with some housekeeping of my brain.

I’m tempted to write a story, an essay something about my recent experience meeting the great, the mighty, the humble and the brilliant Jane Goodall.

It’s what I should do. It’s what my training as a writer tells me to do. It’s a story that could sell, or at least gain attention.

But if I’ve learned one thing in listening to Dr. Goodall, it’s that doing what you are trained to do is not as productive as you might think. It’s not even that creative and it won’t break down the walls of society or the walls in your head. At least, that’s what I heard when I listened to this amazing and accomplished woman. She seems to feel that thinking outside the box is just exactly that. OUTSIDE the box. Where there are no rules, nor are there any boundaries or guarantees.

It’s a wonderful and terrifying and exciting place, this space outside of the box.

So off I go into the void, fumbling towards who knows what. Letting my passion and my curiosity be my guide. What comes out might be brilliant, it might be drivel, but at least it’s mine.

I feel like railing against the education establishment yet again, but it seems misplaced. Somehow, by growing Square Pegs and starting a groundswell movement where children are taking responsibility, cultivating kindness, using creativity and feeling at home in their own bodies, then maybe the next generation is empowered to start solving the problems that we have created. This is my talent, this is my task.

I think this is Dr. Jane’s thinking and it’s what keeps her hopeful in spite of all that she has seen and all that she knows. That the hope is in the children. That adults are not very trainable. That kindness to the animals and our planet inspires the younger generation to become invested in their future.

So, now with a few cobwebs cleared in my murky, aging brain, I now feel like my path is more clear. That I can’t afford to get bogged down with the minutiae of the operation. By the small-mindedness of some people and the way they treat their children or their animals. My job is to care for the animals that are here now and to the best of my ability and to inspire the children to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams, to do what is right.

Thank you Lady Jane.

Continue reading “See Jane Ride”

Girls and Horses, what’s the connection?

On Trust

Is it trust then that causes you to wrap your tiny hand around the gnarled cotton rope and breathlessly tug as you walk away assuming that 1000 lbs of pure flesh and bone will follow you quietly? Is it delusion? Or arrogance? It doesn’t really matter because the 1000 lbs at the end of the rope is looking at you trustingly as he follows you. No matter who you are, you know that this is amazing.

Continue reading “Girls and Horses, what’s the connection?”

Response: Horsemanship, Art or Science?

From Carol Beardon of Poplar Place Stables:

“Horsemanship is an art. It is the art of being able to finesse the horse to willing do what you ask him/her to do. It is an art to think like a horse, and therefore understand them.”

GiveMeaning interview with eHub…

There are a lot of people doing interesting and creative things on the internet related to philanthropy, and this is just another wonderful example. On Emily Chang – eHub Interviews, Emily talks with Tom Williams, the creator of GiveMeaning. Wonderful stuff. Just read it!

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