We heard Jesse picked up four new “green ponies,” so we met him at his barn to admire the new animals.
Jesse: “What’s your favorite beach?”
SD Polo: Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico! Why?
Jesse: I am naming my horses after beaches, at least these two year olds. The four year old needs to be named after a beer.
SD Polo: Stella? Why do you name your horses in waves?
Jesse: Well, I won’t play these two year olds for another 4 years. They’ll all be named after beaches then.
SD Polo: Four years is a long time! How do you prepare them to play polo?
Jesse: You have to spend time with them. Brush them, groom them, ride them everyday. The more time you put into them, the better they’ll be. That’s the idea, anyway.
SD Polo: Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. You’re 18, just graduated high school. How long have you been playing polo and what would you be doing if you didn’t play?
Jesse: I’ve been playing ever since I can remember. I moved here from New Zealand when I was two, and I was definitely on a horse before then. Playing polo is my life. There is no other path.
SD Polo: So you didn’t really have a choice. You were born into it because your father plays.
Jesse: I did have a choice. I played soccer growing up and eventually had to choose between soccer and polo.
SD Polo: What do you think about playing with your dad?
Jesse: It’s just another job. There is always competition, but it always brings out the best in both of us. Obviously, I’d rather play against him so I can beat him.
SD Polo: Did your dad teach you to play polo?
Jesse: I had a lot of help from different people… Kimo, Danny Rowland, Gaston VonWernich, but mostly my dad.
SD Polo: When you’re playing with sponsors, do you ever give them feedback, or do you leave that to the older pros?
Jesse: We all help each other. The sponsors usually ask for feedback or how to improve. I’ll help anyone that wants to learn.
SD Polo: What was Team USPA about?
Jesse: The USPA picks 8 players between ages 18-31 to be on the team. We go to clinics, they help with internships, networking and jobs too. It gets my name out of California. I worked with Julio Arellano, one of the best players in the United States. He was one of the mentors in the program and I really learned a lot from him.
SD Polo: You’re young and you have your whole polo career ahead of you. Where do hope the sport takes you?
Jesse: Ideally, I’ll travel the world and play polo. I’d love to travel Europe and Argentina. I’ll be the best I can be.