Whether it’s arena dirt, or the flying turf of an outdoor field, Erik Wright’s 20 year polo career has seen its share of hooves and boots alike, interacting with some of the country’s best, both equine and human. Founded in 1998 as a multi-faceted teaching, leasing and playing program, Wrightway Polo and its namesake have become a reputable source for all things polo up and down California’s Golden Coast. From Northern California’s wine country to the sunny beaches of San Diego and the posh appeal of Bel-Air’s Polo Club, Erik works diligently as an instructor, businessman and polo professional with players at all levels to promote his sport. Whether at the indoor arena at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center or the winter fields of Eldorado and Empire Polo Clubs in Indio, California, you’ll likely see Erik, one of his students, or one of his horses taking to the field.
Sidelines: What do you love most about polo?
EW: The people and the horses! I think we all get into this sport because of the horses. When you stop to think about it, it is absolutely astounding what they allow us to do, as competitors and as teammates.
Sidelines: What do you feel is the most important lesson a student should take away from polo?
EW: I think the most important lesson is to enjoy the journey of polo. As a student, it is easy to get frustrated with your progress. I tell my students to measure their progress in weeks and months, not days and weeks and that if instant gratification is your thing, polo probably isn’t your sport. So, enjoy every minute of it, whether you had your best day playing or maybe not your best day. I figure any day we are on the polo field is a gift. Certainly those of us fortunate enough to play should consider ourselves blessed.
Sidelines: What is your most memorable moment in polo, on or off the field?
EW: There have been so many important moments in polo for me. I won the 4 goal with the Coldwell Banker team last year and it was a special moment for me because the sponsors were Lyn Jason Cobb and her daughter Madelyn Cobb. My first job in polo was with Lyn’s mother and father (Madelyn’s grandmother and grandfather), Mack and Madelyn Jason. I started as a groom for them and have been taking care of the family for 23 years. I knew Madelyn when she was a toddler. Mack had been in poor health, but he was able to attend the final, so it was a full circle/family kind of thing to have the three generations represented on the team. They both passed away this year so that was a treasured moment in time. We also had a great 10 goal league last January in the Desert at Empire Polo Club with Jef and Katie Graham and their Barossa team where we went undefeated throughout the month. I started them both in polo and they are like family, so it’s very fulfilling to see where they are now with their polo. And most important, any time I can play with my two sons is a great moment in polo for me.
Sidelines: You mentor hundreds of students a year. Who was your most important mentor?
EW: I’m a student of the game so I have had some great mentors over the years. My teaching style is heavily influenced by Rege and Janet Ludwig, who have been great supporters throughout my career. But I would have to say my greatest mentors have been Corky and Kathy Linfoot. I draw most of what I know in polo from them. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Sidelines: Which has been your favorite horse to play, and why?
EW: I am so fortunate to have played some amazing horses. Tina 4 (we had 1 through 6 for the Jasons-all full sisters) Bayacoa, Fabulosa, Fresas. I’m the best mounted I have ever been right now – Bigote, Cholo, AP, Noticeable, Cayenne- I have no right to be this lucky. My favorite all time is Cayenne. She probably isn’t even the most talented of that group, although she is amazing in her own right, but she is a warhorse and we have been through so many battles together and she never once let me down. I feel like Superman on her. I got her from the Linfoots. I went into overtime the day after I bought her and played her back in overtime. Kathy was videoing the game and she laughed and said: ‘well that didn’t take long.” It’s been like that ever since.
-By Danika Rice