Big smiles and Barbadian music greeted me at my first-ever polo match at Holders Polo Club in beautiful Barbados. Sporting events are always more engaging live, but few muster the old-world elegance and refined glamour of polo. The afternoon hit all the nuanced notes: a beautifully dressed crowd, more clapping than cheering, flowing champagne, stiff-upper-lip sportsmanship and a connection to royalty: Prince Charles and Prince Harry have both graced the small island’s playing fields.

Modern polo originated in India with the first club opening in 1859 in Silchar, Assam. The British can be thanked for spreading it to places such as Argentina, Singapore and Barbados, where the season runs from January to May.

Not knowing the teams—or the rules—I found myself just enjoying the moment, cheering on whoever made a nice play and feeling very civilized for not picking sides. Like many fun things, it was over too quickly. The players wandered out onto the sidelines to be with their friends, helmets undone, beers in hand. I eavesdropped for a few minutes, not really understanding their recap of the game, then ambled on for a final glass of bubbly.

[This story appears in the December 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]