bright Florida sun sits the Polo Museum and Hall of Fame. Within its rooms and
halls lie the most important pieces to those who love the sport of kings.
Helmets and mallets. Uniforms and saddles. Photos of players and horses
decorate the sunny rooms, telling the stories of the men and women who have
kept the game great.
that has survived over two thousand years of play, polo was the ultimate union
of horse and rider. Some even thought that the game was played by the gods,
thundering about heaven on giant steeds, chasing each other over the field in
the clouds. Some say, the gods themselves even come down to earth once in a
while to have a match with us.
one corner, a little out of the way for some, there is a painting unlike any
other. The painting is of a young Egyptian pony, complete with headdress and a
polo mallet. A little golden plate below the picture tells the viewer that his
name is Chukker, and his story began a long time ago, in a faraway land.
was like any of the other ponies in his town. He loved to run and play and jump
and be with his friends. He liked swimming in the river and climbing the hills,
but there was one thing Chukker loved more than anything else.
ponies of Egypt had been playing polo long before Chukker. They would race up
and down the hard packed ground, in sandy patches of grass, chasing the ball
with their trusty mallets. From the first time Chukker saw a match, he knew
that there was no other sport for him.
away he began to train to be a polo pony. Every day Chukker would run and
stretch. He would eat his vegetables and was always careful to get a good
night’s sleep. During the day he would race up and down the field chasing the
ball with the other ponies, and every day he got a little better. One day,
Chukker’s grandmother gave him a special gift.
your father’s mallet,” she told him.
played polo?” Chukker asked in wonder.
the greatest ever,” the woman answered. “And now his mallet is yours.”
father’s mallet in hand, Chukker decided that someday, all of the ponies would
call him the greatest ever as well.
Chukker and three best friends, Tack, Bump, and Hands, were practicing on the
field. Up and down they ran, hitting and blocking and passing as they moved
around the field. But then their game was interrupted by a nasty howl.
cried a mean voice.
ponies turned and found Jocko the Jackal walking on to the field with his three
turn,” Jocko called, sneering at the ponies.
done soon,” Chukker said.
be done now,” Jocko ordered. “We have a team,” he said to the ponies. “A real
team. We’re the Bad Sports, and we are taking this field.”
Tack cried. “This is our time!”
before we pound you!” Jocko warned.
about a game instead?” Chukker offered. “Winner takes the field.”
smile grew on Jocko’s face. “You’re on.”
moved fast. Chukker and his friends were good, but Jocko and the other jackals
were very fast. Everywhere the ponies ran, the Bad Sports were there, pulling
on tails and shoving Chukker and his friends around the field. The one thing
the jackals couldn’t beat though was Chukker’s mallet.
swing of the mallet sent the ball rocketing across the field. Chukker never
missed the ball. Not once. He raced over the hard grass, leading the charge and
calling out, “Let’s go Good Sports!”
hated that Chukker called his team the Good Sports, and played all the harder.
He smacked the ball whenever he was close and crashed into anyone who got in
his way. Jocko was the dirtiest player the field had ever seen, but that didn’t
change Chukker. The pony kept cheering for his team, and at the end of the
match it was his mallet that scored the winning goal.
Jocko screamed as time ran out. “That’s not fair!”
Hands cried. “Now get lost, Jocko!”
back,” the jackal promised. “And as for you, Chukker,” he said, pointing his
boney finger at the pony, “I’d hold on to that mallet if I were you. Hate to
find out someone broke it.”
Bad Sports left the field, the ponies all gathered around Chukker.
think he’ll try and break your mallet, Chukker?” Bump asked.
bad one,” Tack decided. “I bet he’ll try and take it.”
he can’t take it,” Hands added, “he’ll break it for sure. You have to be very
best mallet I’ve ever seen,” Tack said.
“It is an
amazing mallet,” Chukker agreed.
should have a name,” Bump shared. “Like how a famous sword has a name, or a
famous ship? Your mallet needs a name.”
about the Boomer?” Hands suggested.
Mighty Mallet?” Tack offered.
about calling it Earthshaker?” Bump said.
Hands yelled. “Call it the Ball Destroyer!”
“I know what to call it,” Chukker said. “Its name is the
Thunderstick!” his three friends called. “We love it!”
Chukker and the Thunderstick!” hands cried.
friends laughed and played for the rest of the day, each of them promising to
help Chukker keep the Thunderstick from Jocko and his jackals.
as the ponies were walking home under the Egyptian stars, Jocko and the Bad
Sports jumped out in front of them.
the mallet, pony!” Jocko yelled at Chukker.
Sports chased the ponies down the streets and through the allies of their town.
Over the sand and around palm trees, the Good Sports fled from the Bad Sports.
here!” Hands said, pointing at the Temple of the Gods.
ponies ran into the temple and hid behind a statue. They could hear the Bad
Sports outside searching around, calling for the ponies to come out. The Good
Sports stayed quiet though, hidden in the temple.
Bump said suddenly. “That picture over there…”
really,” Bump replied. “It looks like…”
Hands said again.
looks like Chukker,” Tack said.
Hands said a third time.
looked carefully at the picture and couldn’t believe what he saw. It was a very
old painting of a pony playing polo, and that pony looked just like him. He was
racing over a thick green field, the ball rolling out before him, and in his
hand was a shining mallet.
Thunderstick!” Bump said, pointing at the mallet in the picture.
looked carefully at the image and they all agreed. It was the Thunderstick.
your papa’s mallet doing in that picture?” Hands wondered. “And why is it in
the Temple of the Gods?”
writing!” Tack pointed out. “It says, ‘Chukkah, Son of the Gods’,” he read.
ponies stared at Chukker.
isn’t me,” Chukker said. “That’s not my name, and that can’t be my mallet, and
there is no way that picture is me.”
just like you,” Hands argued.
is almost your name,” Tack said.
looks just like the Thunderstick,” Bump added.
means…” Chukker said.
you’re dead!” Jocko cried.
ponies turned and hollered when they saw the Bad Sports standing around the
statue. “You can’t take the Thunderstick!” they all cried.
I’ll do the next best thing,” he said, and the evil Jocko raised his hands to
the statue. “Oh great and wonderful gods of old! Hear me, and send these pesky
ponies far from here, to another time and another place, where I will never see
clouds formed over the ponies and Chukker screamed, “Hold on to me!” They all
hugged Chukker, and as a group they spun up into the dark cloud, but not before
Jocko saw the painting on the wall of the Thunderstick.
ponies flew through the fog and clouds, spinning and tumbling and falling so
far they feared it would never end. Then the clouds grew bight and the four of
them landed on a thick green field under a bright sun. They stood and looked
around, and were amazed by what they saw.
home was gone, and so were the mountains of sand and the great river. Instead, there
were palm trees growing from grass, and a wide blue sky met a wide blue ocean.
are we?” Chukker asked.
ponies turned a circle and then Chukker laughed.
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