American Polo Pioneer
Sue Sally Hale
In the 80's I was involved in a tournament game as the umpire. I was green and everyone knew it. Of course I was encouraged by Sal.In one play the opposing pro swung a nearside back shot-hard-missing the ball and hitting Sal in the jaw. I stopped the game and rode to Sal;her mouth was bleeding and I asked if she was O.K. She simply spat out a tooth and said she was fine, and could we just have a throw in. That's who Sue Sally Hale was.
-- Bruce Gaither
Sal opened the door for myself as well as other women who dreamed of "playing with the guys". She had the balls to thrash it out with them long before they wanted women galloping alongside them on the field. Women's polo did take off in the 30's, but for those of us younger than that, who needed a woman to look up to on the field, it was Sal. She could be a cranky old bag-"aren't we all?"- but she played polo from her heart. Her passion was not just for the trophy, but rather the beauty, pureness, and majesty of the game. She "got" the energy exchanged between player and pony and tried throughout her career to pass on this love to her students-male and female. I will always respect and admire her and I thank her for making it a bit easier for my generation to hit the fields. Thank you Sal
Sue Sal, Just wanted to thank you for sharing your life and your family with me. It made a difference.
I at first thought I should not write anything because I have been so removed from polo for so long. Then I started to remember my start in polo on the East Coast in 1980, and how indebted I and every other woman who has played polo was to Sue Sal. She was definitely the trailblazer for all of us. Many have already mentioned her level of sportsmanship and her tenacity in the game. All of these attributes have benefited our acceptance and have allowed us to learn and compete alongside the "boys".
This is one of the few sports where we have the opportunity to compete as equals. Thanks to Sue Sal.
I met Sal in 1985 when I first moved to LA. Her legacy had already proceeded her to the East Coast; I was in awe of her, and what she had done. Then I learned more about the wonderful human being she was, not just a woman polo pioneer. Her love of all animals, her generosity were just more of her traits. She was always willing to lend a horse to get more players on the field; coach and even lend a family member to fill out a team. She also insisted I try her mule playing polo pony. Thank you Sal for leaving your unique wonderful mark on my life.
--Regi Toscano Cutler
Sue Sal was a legend. She was a streak of purple on the field. I had learned about her long before I met her. I had read her poetry, enjoyed her artwork and watched her play. Sue Sal always surprised me when she showed up for a game with her horses bridled in a simple hackamore with no martingale. She was an amazing woman who loved polo and could not imagine life without it. "What would life be if Polo we didn't play?" She will be missed.
Sue Sally Hale influenced many with her art, her poetry, her equestrian flair, her genuine affinity for animals, even her political views. But a more innate sense she possessed far eclipsed those attributes--an abiding interest in welcoming new people into her world. Central to her world, of course was polo, and she embraced polo activism for the right reason-expanding the playing population regardless of age, sex, or income. She did this with advocacy and by personal intervention. The MCAS El Toro Polo Team, at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro is home to the first All-Marine polo team, thanks to Sal's chance meeting with a marine there in 1995. She sought political means to protect the equestrian atmosphere in Vista Santa Rosa neighborhood during a period of unbridled growth in the East Valley. Her persuasiveness on the Vista Santa Rosa Community Council with Tracy Darroll and others won over a reticent city council. An advocate of collegiate polo, Sal was key to many refinements in tournament organization. She encouraged polo's governing bodies to broaden its efforts to include the middle class in the sport--efforts that could easily have failed on behalf of someone with less conviction. I am indebted to Sal for her patience and constant friendship since 1991 when she agreed to bring an ill-funded, equine-illiterate polo enthusiast into the game on a groom apprenticeship in exchange for polo lessons. She loved to educate and I loved to learn, and we became close friends. She has repeated that mentoring with scores of others time and again--touching lives with the benefit of her rich experience. May she rest forever on the laurels of her achievements here.
My Mother Sharon Mansker has been friends with Sal for 50yrs. I have known her all my life. She will be missed by so many people and animals alike. I was with her all day Sunday 04/27/03, getting a lesson on her Purple Pony, Sancho (Jumper). Her life was cut short, no where close to being finished with all she wanted to do. There is a HUGE whole in my heart that will never be filled.
--Brooke A. Mansker
Sue Sal was one of the greatest people I have ever had the chance to meet. She was always kind and willing to help in all that I pursued, but never too lenient to forget a strong reminder if I needed one. I remember always looking at her in a state of awe... and who wouldn't? She was, and will remain to be, one of the most amazing and influential people in polo. She had that inate ability to make me feel like I was playing in high goal when I was only 8 or 9, just because I was playing in the Equidome! I was with the big boys! And what made it even better was I got the honor of riding her horse Bacon. I will never forget that, just like I will never forget her and all of the wonderful influence she has had in my life. Being in college now, it makes the memories fonder because I have had the opportunity to share stories with my teammate Alex about all the crazy things Sal did, that made her who she was. The horrendously bright polo wraps(new color for each leg), the bird Glue, and of course, the possums. It was these things that have made her so special to us all. I know that she will be in my heart always, as now she is spending her time beating all those boys on the big grass fields in heaven. We love you Sal..thank you for all you have brought into the polo world..it won't be the same without you.
When Joseph Campbell advised "Follow your bliss" he might have been describing the life of Sue Sally Hale. Here is a woman who knew what she wanted to do at an early age and never took her eye off the ball. Literally. And because she lived the life she loved to the fullest she had so much to give to others. Sue Sal loved to save lost souls--people, dogs, horses, even possums. She could take a tired, abused or frightened animal and put the light back in their eyes. She always had time to let one more person into her life. I count myself fortunate to have been one of those lost souls. Sue Sal was a part of my life for thirty years. She was my friend, my teacher, my mentor, and my adopted mom. She touched my life and changed it forever.What an amazing thing for one human being to do for another. Even more amazing is the fact that she did this for so many people. Sue Sal, we will miss you, but we will carry a part of you with us forever. Thank you.
Words can not express what Sue Sally's loss means to the polo community. She spent a lifetime devoted to introducing the sport to new players young and old. Yes, she was controversial and many times she was at odds with "the powers that be" in polo. But without her gumption the ice might never have been broken to allow women in polo, and many of her management ideas that proved to be excellent programs would never have been implemented.
She left behind countless polo players that owe her their knowledge and understanding of the game and horse care. In the obituary I read she is quoted as telling men who threatened her "Boys, better men than you have tried. Be my guest". She then would proceed to show them how the game was played. She always played like a true sportsman. She never threatened anyone even when provoked to the point that most other players would explode in anger. I remember seeing her at a tournament that her sponsors had flown her in and mounted her. Most of us would not call what she was riding, horses. On knock-ins one horse wouldn't even go near the ball, yet Sue Sally never said a word. She was gracious in victory as well as defeat, the epitome of what we would all like to see on the polo field. We will all miss Sue Sally and hope that we can continue her mission to bring new players into the sport as horsemen and sportsmen.
-- Danny Scheraga
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