A primer for newbies heading to Polo at McFaddin Ranch (Video)

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

March 13, 2013 at 4 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2013 at 10:14 p.m.

Bob McCan practices polo Tuesday in Victoria.

Bob McCan practices polo Tuesday in Victoria.   Kathleen Duncan for The Victoria Advocate

No one wants to feel out of place, like a streetwalker at a polo match.

Recall the scene in "Pretty Woman," where Vivian Ward, played by an enchanting Julia Roberts, slams a fist pump to rally a horse and polo player on the field - or in "My Fair Lady," where Eliza Doolittle yells at passing horse jockeys, singling out one of them to move his bloomin' arse.

Such behavior is not proper etiquette, and, hopefully, with the help of Kate Garcia, chairwoman of this year's Polo at McFaddin event, you won't have to be on the receiving end of the cold stares or glares from other spectators.

The polo match is the Nave Museum's largest fundraiser of the year, Garcia said. Saturday's event is dedicated to the sport of polo, gourmet tailgating, bidding on once-in-a-lifetime experiences, hanging out with old friends and making new ones.

"Some people will watch the game from start to finish, and there are some people who will graze all day on the tailgating and visit with everybody," Garcia said. "It's a very social setting."

Dressing the part

When women think of derby, they think big hats adorned with flowers and parasols in pastel hues. But be careful.

"This is the one chance that I would say you could really dress up like 'Pretty Woman' and get out there in your derby outfit because we don't really have those kind of horse races down here," Garcia said. "I have friends who are going to come out in the biggest hats they own and other friends that will come out in their western attire."

But because it is an outdoor event, it's important to keep the setting in mind once you start thumbing through your closet or hitting the mall to find the best dress to match your hat.

Garcia, a veteran to the polo event, said she's worn sandals, dresses, heels and boots to previous matches. But this year, she said, she'll probably arrive in a pair of tall boots and jeans spruced up with a nice top.

"I would definitely say no heels," she said. "It's ranch land; it's got natural divots and dips, and we've got horse exercises going on right outside the polo field."

If ladies insist on wearing a pair of heels to the match, she said a 3-inch heel would be the tallest she would go. And no stilettos - we all know grass and spiked heels are a no go.

She also said it is best to wear layers. It is March, so it might be windy and a little chilly. The weather can be a bit unpredictable, but that doesn't mean you have to be unprepared.

Pack a bag with a light jacket or sweater in case of inclement weather and an umbrella, too. Bring sunblock to protect your skin and a pair of stylish shades to protect your eyes. Also, pack a few chairs if you want. There will be seating, but if you have your own seats, you can plant them in a good spot - preferably within a short distance from the food and drinks.

Eat, drink, bid

Last year was Trent Thigpen's first polo experience. An artist and associate professor at Victoria College, he thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the Nave and enjoy the outdoors.

"It's such a large field, and watching the horses run by was almost surreal," he said. "It's like a giant chessboard where you can see the pieces move during the game."

One thing he said he enjoyed the most about the event was the food and drinks. He couldn't recall everything available, but he did remember there was Mexican fare, Cajun creole and bacon dipped in chocolate.

"It wasn't your typical tailgate food. That's for sure," he said. "They even had different citrus waters that were very refreshing and pleasant."

Included in the ticket price for the polo match are food and drink, which includes an open beer and wine bar and more than 10 gourmet tailgaters serving heavy hors d'oeuvres.

"It's a pretty good mix of everyone," she said. "It's people who enjoy cooking to actual caterers or restaurants that want to showcase some of their hors d'oeuvres."

While the horse and their riders are trotting from one end of the field to the other, you can peruse the tables and grab eats here and there. And be sure to grab a drink from the bartenders under the benefactor's tent. There, Garcia said, spectators can grab a Pimm's cup - the official drink of the polo match. The drink is a made with a British liquor combined with fresh citrus and mint, a refreshing drink to partner with a polo match.

Once you've got your fill on food and a Pimm's cup in hand, check out the auction items and sit in on the live auction.

The silent auction will include donations from area artists, including an antique ceramic jug from Thigpen himself, and other desirable goods. All proceeds from the auctions benefit the Nave Museum.

"It was more about the sideline activity for me because I'm not a polo fan - it's not something I follow," he said. "A lot of people were more interested in the activity itself, just being there."



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