Prince William and Kate didn’t visit Los Osos, but if they had, they would have been duly impressed by the horsemanship demonstrated by members trained by Megan Judge at the Central Coast Polo Club.
Once Judge discovered Cal Poly had a polo team, she found a home. Her grandfather, William C. Carter Jr., managed the Will Rogers State Park polo club in Pacific Palisades.
At age 13, he taught her to ride. Her horsemanship earned her invitations to fill in during polo chukkars, or match periods.
But the lessons she most valued included learning that a horse was not only a joy, but also a responsibility, and that a polo club must run like a business.
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Judge is celebrating 10 years as owner and trainer of the nonprofit club near Clark Valley Farms. The membership-based program offers training, riding, polo play and boarding.
Judge is also the volunteer coach for the Cal Poly polo team, which collected four regional championships during her collegiate years of 1996-99.
“My dream is a national championship,” she said. “We won before. We can do it again. If you can ride a horse, you can win a championship, but I’ve realized we need our own youth program to train all year and build a love for the sport. We need competitors to stay and compete for the Central Coast, and we need alumni to support future programs.”
In 2002, the Cal Poly program was in jeopardy. It looked to Judge for help. She followed her passion and began maintaining the program.
For years she balanced her career, nurtured her grandfather through Alzheimer’s and built the nonprofit training center that the Cal Poly team and others use for training and competition.
Ultimately, inheritance from her grandfather’s estate allowed her young family to purchase Los Osos acreage.
Dominic, her contractor husband, built the club’s regulation-sized arena. Last year, she decided to stay home with 3-year-old Autumn and 9-month-old Wyatt.
“My grandfather said I couldn’t own a horse until I had a job,” she said. “This is my job.”
She has 16 donated horses and boards two. All have polo experience and need the gentle exercise provided by student training and tournament play.
“We’re considered club play, which I prefer,” Judge said. “Club means all levels are welcome. We’re a social equestrian group. I like to get friends and family involved enjoying the sport, socializing outside and teaching our youth the responsibility of caring for the horses.”
From Aug. 4 to 7, she’ll host the William C. Carter Jr. Memorial Tournament. “We’ll have 10 visiting teams — 30 competitors of all ages. Come out. See what we do.”
Find the entire program schedule at www.centralcoastpolo.com.
Contact Judy Salamacha firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.