Harrison County

Polocross? Harrison County will transform unused land

HARRISON COUNTY -- A couple of weeks ago, the county owned 640 acres covered in brush and pine off John Clark Road near the County Fairgrounds.

In a couple of months, it will own a new practice arena for horse enthusiasts -- and a polocross field.

Polocross?

A few weeks ago, Supervisor Angel Middleton hadn't heard of the cross between polo and lacrosse, either.

"And I've been in horses my whole life," she said. Thursday, she was pitching the idea to a few dozen people gathered for a ground-breaking at the newly cleared field, not far from the home where she grew up.

Barrel racers, team ropers and the like needed a place to practice since they've been getting squeezed off the larger arena at the county farm by the annual Gulf Coast Winter Classic, which brings in riders from all over the world and lasts six weeks.

And, Middleton said, because the county has a new recreation director, Greg Whitfield, and plans to market the bigger arena, it made sense to build one for the locals. The county owns the land, so the cost for the arena and bathrooms will be about $15,000, she said.

"It's exciting for someone to put an idea in your head and be able to make it happen," she said.

The polocross field will be built by county employees, who will level the field and put in nets.

Whitfiled said there are teams in Gulfport, Jackson, Mobile and Lake Charles, La., which makes Gulfport a pretty good spot for polocross.

"They call it poor man's polo," he said. "It's a smaller field so you can play with one or two horses. For (traditional) polo you have to bring six or seven horses because you don't want to run them to death."

Whitfield said if the sport takes off as he thinks it will, the county has room to add two more fields, which would put it in the running to host national championships.

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