Pamela Flanagan is a passionate advocate for polo, horses and women in the sport. She helped create the Women’s International Polo Network and is known for turning rescue horses into polo ponies. Both a top international female athlete and lawyer, Pamela is the newest member of our SportingGirlGang. We were excited to catch up with her at PoloFest in Denver!
How did you get into polo?
Polo is such a unique sport, it is always interesting to know HOW those who play got started. For me it was in high school while at the Culver Academies. I have been “addicted to horses” (as my family so kindly puts it), since I was 4 years old, so as any proper horse addict would do, I signed up for every horse related sport Culver offered, polo being one of them. I had already been riding most of my life, and with four older brothers, playing contact sports was as natural to me as playing dress up is to most young girls. I was hooked from the moment I picked up a mallet and haphazardly galloped around the arena. After graduating from Culver, I attended Southern Methodist University and assisted in founding the SMU Polo Team. I played with the SMU team during my undergraduate years and throughout law school.
Where/How did you continue to play after graduating?
After graduation, I found myself constantly reaching out to friends around the world asking for information on upcoming women’s tournaments. Since that time, I have played in Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, China, Canada and across the U.S. I would sign up for various tournaments, crash with fellow polo girls, and rent horses from local players. I quickly found, as your passion for polo grows, so does the community around you. The polo world is vast, but it is a tight knit community.
Tell us about The Women's International Polo Network
In spring 2018, I teamed up with a group of polo women to launch a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) entity called the Women’s International Polo Network (“WIPN”). The aim of this online platform is to grow, connect, and organize women’s polo globally. The WIPN website will host a variety of features: players and clubs can create profiles, share and access a global tournament calendar, and communicate through WIPN’s messaging center. The website is currently in the development stages while we raise the necessary funds for the buildout and maintenance fees. Our landing page and a link to our Go-Fund Me can be viewed at www.WIPNpolo.com.
Finish this sentence: “BECAUSE OF POLO, I…”
Because of polo, I have expanded my already large family to include a global community of fellow horse fanatics. I have traveled the world, modeled for a handful of horsey themed companies, even landed a billboard in New York City’s Times Square. I have become a Brand Ambassador for Hawaii Polo Life, and now the newest member of the Town’s End SportingGirlGang. Polo has introduced me to my incredible boyfriend Robert, and it has opened my eyes to a new and equally addicting passion: horse rescue.
Horse rescue and your brand… Tell us more.
In October 2016, I stumbled upon an online listing for a young filly in need of rescue and was abruptly exposed to the complex and illicit horse slaughter business, which brutally claims the lives of roughly 100,000 American horses per year. Since then, I have been rescuing, rehabbing and repurposing horses in need and sharing their stories along the way. I brand my rescues with a “recycled heart” image to signify that these once discarded horses have been repurposed. Rather than hiding their tainted past, I aim to showcase their journeys and show people how much potential lies within these muddied misfits. My first rescue, Stella (#PoloPonyStella), will be playing her second season in Wellington, Florida this winter. In the last year and half, I have rescued, rehabbed and repurposed 6 horses.
What is on your polo bucket list?
1. I want to see the WIPN succeed and be the go-to portal for all things women’s polo.
2. Win the Women’s US Open
3. See one of my rescues play in a 20+ goal match (and perform well)
4. Win a tournament playing as Team Town’s End with all the TEO polo girls!
Words of advice for those interested in playing polo?
DO IT. It will change your life for the better. Google your city and “polo club,” you’ll likely find there is something nearby. Anyone can play, man, woman, old, young, expert rider, or someone who has never been on a horse. Give it a try, sign up for one lesson, you will be glad you did.