MAGGIE COAKLEY: Polo Enthusiast
BY: WREN SOLARES
Maggie is what I would call the delightful girl next door: She possesses a fresh-faced beauty and a contagious smile.
Maggie was born into the world of horses, and has been riding since the age of three. Before she was old enough to work for the Milwaukee Polo Club she went to the games every Sunday. When she was only nine years old, her mom bought her a popcorn maker stand that she and her younger brother brought to every Sunday game; she sold popcorn just so that she could be a part of it all. She helped her sisters in her younger years, but actually started working in the professional world of polo at the age of 12. She remembers being so keen to do it, and was capable of doing everything but tie the horses to the trailers because she just wasn’t quite tall enough.
Maggie started working as a groomer, which involved exercising the horses. She recalls the first pro, Rodrigo, who taught her how to wrap the legs of the horses for matches. She started her career working with her granddad’s horses whilst her sister worked with the pro, but Maggie eventually took over the pro grooming position as well as her granddad’s. She was responsible for all twelve horses for a total of three years during all scrimmages and matches. In seven minutes she was tasked with tacking, bathing, and grooming as well as careful consideration for the preferences that each player had. For example, the International players have the girth attached on right-hand side of the horse and they never undo, while U.S. players prefer to take the girth off completely. There were a number of requests and preferences from players; she even had to give honey to one of the horses before each chukker.
Maggie said that you always know a horse who loves the sport: Two particular horses named Rabbit Ears and Cimmaron fit this description. She said that you can tell between a horse who does its job because it has to and those that crave the adrenaline. The horses are well aware of what they're doing and aim to please, which creates the ultimate connection with the player.
Maggie always looks forward to the start of the season, as she loves getting to know all of the pros and they become part of the family. Her family lives very close to the polo farm, so she is always working with the horses, hanging out on the lake, and taking the polo players out to see the city. It is difficult to say goodbye as some of the players permanently leave, but she is traveling to Argentina this summer and will visit some of the old pros that she has not seen in many years.
Maggie believes that her experience in the world of polo and horses taught her responsibility at a very young age. She had the confidence to be able to do work that an adult could do, and learned a great deal about caring for the horses as well. The world of polo was always something that she and her siblings could connect on, no matter their differing interests. Not only did this world give her some of her happiest childhood memories, but it was also a precious gift because she was able to simultaneously educate, share, connect, and find passion.
Given all of this history with animals, it no surprise that Maggie is at the Villanova University with the intention of going on to Vet School and specialize in equine medicine.
One of Maggie’s favorite things at the match is watching how their announcer, Danny, engages the audience. She said he is very talented at his job, and many people come to the games just to hear him. He also does polo trivia for the children under the age of 12 at the end of halftime. He asks questions to test their memory of the game and knowledge such as the number of football fields that can fit in a polo field, or the current score of the game (without turning around to see the scoreboard, of course).
I asked Maggie why people should come to a game, and she said: “The sport of polo is so different from anything else you will experience: It is extremely family- oriented, creates bonds, and allows you to celebrate any occasion at the grounds with friends and family. It is not your typical Wisconsin offering, and really does stand out from the rest”
Maggie is actually stepping back a bit this summer, as she won’t be working at the farm and exercising horses during the week. However, you will still be able to see her at the matches every Sunday. Follow Maggie here on the website as she shares her stories of the care and years of experience with the horses.
I can’t thank Maggie enough for her stories in the world of polo as it is truly inspiring to understand what this experience meant to her and why you should come and see us at the Milwaukee Polo Club this season.