The afternoon sun bore down Sunday as the sound of horse hooves, air horns and cheers echoed across the prairie.
Don Scott took only a brief break as he sat beneath a shade tree on a weathered utility pole and watched as his son, Michael, galloped on a horse named Bucky in the Chukkers for Charity Officers Cup, a polo match to benefit the American Heart Association.
"My son plays like a banshee — all the time," he said.
At Scott's side were three mallets — at 51, 52 and 53 inches long — in case Michael broke one while playing, as he did earlier in the day.
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Each Sunday the Wichita Polo Regional Polo Center plays matches at its fields at 9420 S. Broadway. The season ends Sept. 12.
Sean Clem, director of marketing for the club, said the events are open to the public.
Although the Wichita polo club is one of the oldest in the nation, this is the first year it has worked to draw in the public.
"Mostly our spectators are word of mouth," Clem said.
He estimated the benefit would raise between $2,000 and $3,000 for the charity.
On Sunday, the polo match drew about 40 spectators in varying degrees of summer fashion — blue jeans to sundresses, a tiara to dressy cowboy hats.
"We didn't have a lot of time to plan this event," said Karen Cox, vice chairman of the American Heart Association. "But this is our trial run. Next year, we will have more time to organize. We will set up sponsorships and do things differently.
We will have it earlier in the summer and later in the day toward late afternoon or evening. Right now, it is so terribly hot."
Cox said one reason she wanted to host the benefit polo match was to help bring awareness to heart disease.
"My late husband died of heart disease," she said. "Both of us played polo. He loved the game and I am committed to fighting the disease."
The game is played with four mounted players on each team moving a ball toward a goal post. There are six time periods, or chukkers, in a match. Each chukker lasts about seven minutes. Most players bring six horses to the game — one for each chukker.
At half-time, as the horses and players galloped off the field and the spectators stepped on the field for divot stomping, a trendy time of mashing grass back down wherever hooves tore chunks out of the Bermuda lawn.
Each weekend during the summer, Don Scott and his son, Michael, drive from Liberal to Wichita to play the polo matches.
"It is the most fun thing I've ever done in my life," Don Scott said. "I've played football, baseball and wrestled in college. But there is nothing like the thrill of galloping a horse full speed down the field with seven other horses on the field with you, then when you hit the ball, it just cracks.... I'm still playing. The thing is, you can get old and still play."