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Player Grows
Up In Polo
By Lauren R. Giannini
Patrick Uretz didn’t just grow up with horses:
polo set the stage for his parents to meet and
marry. His father Michael got into polo at the
L.A. Equestrian Center and wanted a trail
lesson, Claudia was an instructor – the rest,
as they say, is family history. Parents and all
four sons are passionate about polo.
Patrick, who turned 21 after he submitted
his application to Team USPA, has already
made a name for himself. For the International
Collegiate Challenge Cup at Empire Polo
Club in Indio, California, in January 2012,
Patrick played on the U.S. team that defeated
England’s best intercollegiate players.
Career highlights include winning the 2009
Governor’s Cup at Eldorado, in California,
and earning MVP when the U.S. team of
Julian Mannix’s Hawks (with Daniel Roenisch,
Julian Mannix, and Canelo Sylvestre) won the
2011 Canadian Open.
The Uretz family plays at Santa Barbara
Polo Club, about an hour from their home
in Malibu. Older brother Wiley attends law
school, Tony, 19, is at Westmont College, and Hank, 16, is in
high school. Patrick, a junior at Westmont College where he is
president of the polo team, learned that serious juggling was
required this spring to keep up his game.
“I was playing 12-goal polo in March and it’s a four-hour drive,
so the only way to do it was get a job in Palm Springs for that
month,” explained Patrick. “I spoke with my teachers who said
I could make up the work. I leave after classes on Thursday
and return Sunday night or Monday morning. I had a 3.6 grade
average, but now it’s 3.4. This last year polo got in the way.” He
spoke with the biggest smile in his voice.
“This year Westmont lost to Colorado by 3, tying UVA, last
year’s intercollegiate champions. We won’t know if we’re going
to the national tournament until we play our regional fnals, March
21-24,” said Patrick. “The hardest part about Westmont is that
we are so far away from everyone. John Wesley, our coach, sets
up good games for us against players like Collin White and Ryan
Prather. My older brother Wiley came down a couple times from
law school – he’s a 4-goal indoors – and we get to practice that
Patrick (2-goal outdoor, 3-goal indoor) credits his parents frst
for his playing and horsemanship. “I learned a lot because of them
- my mom took up polo when she married my dad, because she
realized that jumping and dressage weren’t going to work with
polo,” he said. “Every winter for 18 years my parents made a
three-hour drive every month so we could play kids’ polo.”
Another infuence has been
7-goal player Luis Escobar, a
friend of Patrick’s father: “Luis
invited me to Florida for a while
and I got to work with him and his sponsors’ horses. Luis is doing
what I would hope to do: he has a good farm in Florida and he
rents barns out to teams and runs a school with practice chukkers.
We need more arenas and places where people can learn to play.”
Fred Mannix also helped his polo career: “Fred gave me
opportunities and horses to play in Eldorado and at the Calgary
Polo Club in Canada. I’ve gone up there three summers now,”
said Patrick.
Patrick shared several sound snippets of advice: “Really it was
my grandpa’s thing, but my parents told me that there are tons of
ideas how to train horses and play polo, but that I should always
pick the best advice and take what works for me. Luis taught me
that before the game, it’s all about the horses, preparing them
with stick & ball is slow work so that, when it’s game-time, you can
make the correct plays and play to win. I’m excited about being
part of Team USPA and the contacts I’m making will help me in
the future, as a player and also if I enter into the business end of
About the writer: Sidelines’ Lauren R. Giannini is an award-winning “wordsmith”
specializing in stories and photos about the equestrian world. Crazy about horses her
entire life, she lives in the horse and hunt country of Virginia. Lauren’s motto is “write,
ride - not necessarily in that order!”
Patrick Uretz in action during Team USPA 2013
Mentoring Clinic, put on by Kris Bowman, Amanda
Hersey, and Justin Powers, at Everglades Field in
Wellington, Florida. 
Photos By Elizabeth A. Hedley, USPA-NCD
Patrick Uretz - 2013 Team
USPA Developing Player