I was first introduced to polo in the 1950’s. My uncle, General Eastwood was a career Army officer. “Eastie” played polo throughout his Army career, as a cavalry instructor, as a member of General MacArthur’s staff and around the country and the world as an Army officer. Through General Eastwood, I was first exposed to American polo in its glory days, days when America dominated polo with a depth of talent and horseflesh perhaps unequalled even by the Argentinean dynasties of today.
General Eastwood was fortunate enough to have played during the heyday of polo. The exploits of such giants as Phipps, Guest, Iglehart, Sanford, Webb, Hitchcock, Whitney and of course those Western invaders Smith, Pedley, Boeseke and Roark, made an early and lasting impression. These were the days when thousands attended the most important matches and polo players were deservedly treated as national sports heroes.
Although exposed to polo as a youngster I never received a chance to play until my early 20’s. After college and having secured a good job and with the optimism of youth I started hanging around our local polo club in Sugarbush, Vermont. Before long I was invited to play. I still remember that day, many years ago, when I played my first chucker. The excitement and exhilaration I experienced that day will be with me forever and has changed my life. For the last 45 years polo has always been with me. Through thick and thin, ups and downs, polo has always been there.
Through the years, I have been fortunate enough to play in all types of polo; Through the humble fun club beginnings in Vermont, to the fields of Saratoga and Palm Beach, from zero goal to 26 goal and at all levels in between.
Along the way I have had the opportunity to play with and against most of the stars of three decades. Although I never attained a high goal rating, to play with such greats as, the Pieres, the Gracidas, the Hipwoods, Juan Carlos Harriot, Gonzalo Tanoria, Eduardo Moore, Owen Reinhart, Tommy Wayman, Adam Snow, Mike Azzaro, Mariano Aguerre, Adolfo Cambiaso etc. will be with me forever. This experience has made me appreciate what a wonderful and difficult game is polo. Having reached a 3 goal handicap as an amateur is an accomplishment I remain proud of.
When PoloGear dedicated its first website in 1997 the following was its dedication. We believe its intention is still applicable today.
“Enclosed is our first Internet presentation of Polo Gear products. It is dedicated to the polo players of the world; the players of a glorious past, the players of today and the players of our future.
At Polo Gear, we have a vision of our sport flourishing. We dream of having true international competition. We dream of massive corporate sponsorship, television coverage and huge crowds. We dream of the day when young, up and coming players can make a decent living from their passion. We dream of sharing the love of horses and the excitement, challenge, camaraderie, speed and daring of polo with the thousands out there, who if exposed to the game, would surely fall in love with polo, just as we did.
It is our hope that these dreams are reflected in our products and company. They come to you with love and a passion for polo, with a commitment to quality, a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a pledge to the future of polo in America and throughout the world.”
Life was good, polo was great, the business was growing. All that changed in a instant.
In September of 2003, during a practice game at Royal Palm Polo Club, preparing for the Palm Beach Winter Season, I suffered a near fatal accident. A player’s worst nightmare; Player crosses, my horses’ front legs catches the crossing horses hind hoofs, she trips, and flips, I am buried head first in the ground. Dead on the field, down the white tunnel only to return a minute or so latter to a body that could no longer move its arms or legs. Strapped to the backboard, vomiting blood, intense discomfort, Rushed to emergency. Emergency room saves life, 5 days in intensive care, broken C 1 vertebrae, cracked C 2, 5 ruptured discs massive head injuries, but alive. Feeling in extremities (therefore believing I would regain use of them) and alive for no reason but the grace of God. The proverbial angel was on the shoulder. 99% of C 1 fractures result in paralysis or death. Medical prognosis-not good. Maybe never full use of extremities again, reduced mental capacity a possibility, recommended surgery, halo, fusion of vertebrae. Not appealing choices. Jeanette finds alternative therapy. Dr John Upledger, founder of the Upledger Institute and cranio-sacral therapy, Dr Upledger agrees to treat and begins heeling process that still continues today. Remarkable recovery, slow but steady, and continuing as this is written 11 years later. Mental faculties returning (depending upon whom you speak to this may be up for debate) movement and feeling returning to arms and legs. Energy returning thanks to remarkable nutritional supplements, riding again, and as of November, 2010 back at the helm of Polo Gear. Thanks to all involved in the healing and thanks to all for your prayers. I can tell you without reservation that prayer does work and can be felt by those in need.
Throughout the period of my rehab the company had interim management. Jeanette became more involved and the PoloGirl™ line flourished as did her Valiant inspired creations. For those of you who don’t know Valiant he was her blind dressage horse who has been a tremendous inspiration to all whom he met and certainly for the Polo Gear line. During this period we had great growth in our ladies line and in the dressage and jumping worlds.
What the reassurance into PoloGear means to Jeanette and I is a completion of the original vision. To build a global brand that is synonymous with genuine real authentic polo and that represented the finest in technical polo equipment and apparel; Innovative products that made polo safer and better for the horse, the player and the game, and a global presentation of authentic real polo products that celebrates PoloGear’s love and commitment to the sport of polo. To take that brand of genuine authentic real polo from the polo field to main-street by strategic licensing partners who share the vision and enthusiasm of real genuine polo. We have been part of and lived the “Polo Way Of Life” and that is and will continue to be reflected in our fashion and in our brand and everything we do.
We are now on the second part of our journey. When Gary was hurt PoloGear was the largest, strictly Polo equipment and apparel supplier in the US and we believe in the world. The company believes it was the premier supplier of polo equipment in the US and on its way to becoming that globally. Jeanette and I have vowed to work hard to get back to that honor and to expand our business and the awareness of polo through our strategic partners around the globe.
To all our valued customers who have continued to support Polo Gear in my absence our sincere thanks and a pledge to work even harder for you business in the years ahead. You will find moving forward an new line of Nic Roldan inspired products by Polo Gear representing the finest polo products available; A new saddle with world breaking patented technology that will change the sport, a new boot that is simply the finest in the world that comes with matching knee guards, wooden trees and case, a new helmet that will be without question the worlds safest helmet and set new standards of safety. Combine this with our new dri-light performance fabric for clothing, our complete in house clothing and team shop production and you will see that the innovation that we build the company on is back in an important way.
In addition a new focus on genuine “ Polo Way Of Life” fashion and a global brand.
This is the new Polo Gear. A global fashion brand with solid roots on the polo fields of America and the world. Based upon a way of life and a history of real genuine polo. A history that dates back thousands of years and counts Kings, and emperors, and generals, and celebrities of all sorts, among its ranks. To our old friends we say thanks and hello. For those who are new to Polo Gear, Jeanette and I welcome you to the company, we appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to the opportunity to share with you and to the world of real, authentic, genuine polo.
Our products come to you with love and a passion for polo, with a commitment to quality, a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
With Great Appreciation,
Gary Fellers and Jeanette Sassoon