HORSES & HISTORY: THE HAWAII INTERNATIONAL POLO ASSOCIATION
When Social Entrepreneur Christopher Dawson established The Hawaii International Polo Association (HIPA), he wanted to focus on three tenets.
- Celebrate the long history of polo in Hawaii since 1880.
- Develop a retirement program for polo ponies.
- Support at-risk youth via horsemanship programs.
The sport of polo was first introduced to Hawaii in 1880 by an Australian cowboy who was visiting from India. Since then, the game of polo has attracted the likes of England's Prince Charles and Prince Phillip, World War II Army Gen. George S. Patton and Will Rogers. The importance of polo in Hawaii began when King Kamehameha the Great received cattle and horses as gifts from American Richard Cleveland. This seemingly simple gift, made a significant impact on Hawaii's economy and ecosystem, spawning a rich cowboy and ranch culture that is still visible today. This cross over to a more Western lifestyle transitioned to horse racing and polo. The first polo match in Hawaii was between British naval officers against a group of Oahu players. This match was played three years after King (David) Kalakaua dedicated Kapiolani Park as a public space for a polo field and horse race track.
“Hawaiians gravitated to the high-paced sport,” says Allen Hoe HIPA, Chairman. “The 1880’s was Hawaii's golden era of polo." says Hoe. "The horses Hawaii was producing were recognized internationally. When visitors from around the world came here, they knew the horses being bred and raised, at Parker Ranch, were some of the best in the world. More importantly, we had the paniolos who knew how to ride them!"
HIPA continues to build on this legacy by hosting players from around the world to play in Hawaii at our annual fundraising event, The Hawaii Polo Life Invitational. Proceeds from this event go towards funding our three initiatives. Additionally, when you buy our products, you are supporting an authentic brand steeped in rich tradition.