MYAKKA CITY -- Sports-minded visitors to the Bradenton-Sarasota area now have another option to choose from in addition to Anna Maria Island's beaches, area golf courses, and rowing facilities: polo vacations.
Owners Gilberto and Heather Junquerira have rolled out the welcome mat at Pomello Polo, located east of County Road 675 off State Road 70.
They are betting that experienced polo players as well as adventurous visitors who have not even ridden a horse will like their offerings. Essentially, it's a chance to get out of the snow, ride horses, swing a mallet, and take lessons. There is not even a need to bring a pony or equipment. Everything, except accommodations, is available through the club.
"We built the field about three years ago and started to play on it two years ago," Gilberto Junquerira said.
"Our goal is to teach people to play polo, and teach them to ride. They can start from zero at an affordable cost," said Junquerira, himself a professional polo player and native of Brazil.
That means visitors don't need to know how to play polo or even how to ride a horse.
Costs range from $90 an hour, horse and equipment included. Weekly vacation packages that includes 10 lessons are offered for $700. In addition to the lessons, visitors who buy a package are offered a chance to play at least three games.
After they finish practice or play, visitors can barbecue and share a beverage at Pomello Polo.
Pomello Polo offers customized packages for locals and visitors.
Scott Lancaster leases horses at Pomello Polo and was taking part in two-on-two competition recently.
"It's a lot more fun than pumping iron in a gym," Lancaster said of the workout offered by horse riding.
"This is a grass roots approach to polo. Gilberto does a nice job of making it fun," Lancester said.
Sylvia McNichol of Lakewood Ranch has been playing polo for about nine years.
"I don't own a horse. I lease one from Scott," she said.
"I have been riding horses since I was five. One of my neighbors turned me on to polo. It's addicting. It's a great game," she said.
Pomello Polo also offers equine therapy, horse boarding, and horse sales.
Heather Junquerira, a certified veterinary technician with a bachelors degree in sports medicine, has been doing equine physical therapy/rehabilitation, for 15 years, treating soft tissue injuries in horses.
For more information, call 941-209-2774, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit pomellopolo.com/
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.