Meghan Arellano has just arrived at the family farm outside of Aiken, S.C., where she and her polo brood will spend the spring season, following a successful winter in Wellington, Fla., where two of her three children played high-goal tournaments together. The trip, which she made twice back-to-back, while pulling a horse trailer between Aiken and Wellington, is nine hours each way.
“I never drove a trailer before I had kids,” Meghan said. “I played polo my entire life but couldn’t drive a truck and trailer. Then along came my three kids, and I found myself pulling the trailers up and down the coast. But they’re getting old enough to start doing some of the driving now.” Her three children, Agustin, 23, Lucas, 21, and Hope, 18; all play polo and like moms across the world, Meghan reflects that the last 20 years of her life have been all about the kids – where they’re playing, where they’re not playing (equally important), where home is, how they’re getting there, where the horses are and where they need to be next.
“Having kids who play polo is like having child actors. They’re working since they’re really young, so you have to protect them at all costs. You have to make the best decisions for them. We discuss everything as a family and go from there… (more recently) everyone has an opinion nowadays,” said Meghan.
“What else do I do?” she asks almost rhetorically. From the background, daughter Hope answers. “Oh, by the way, you’re on speakerphone,” she says and then repeats Hope’s answer: “Yes, I set up penalties, I drive the truck and trailer, I hold spare horses. I do whatever the kids need.”
Hope, a 1-goaler, had her favorite season yet this winter in Florida. Regardless of Covid-19 restrictions, she played in the 14-goal Palmetto Challenge at Port Mayaca with brother Lucas, a 2-goaler. Their team, Bank Mill Feed, lost in overtime in the final to SD Farms, but the experience was as highlight for the entire family and has put both Lucas and Hope on a different trajectory into the professional polo world.
In many cases, Meghan is the full-time polo mom and polo dad: while she and the kids were at Port Mayaca or moving back to Aiken, her husband, professional polo player Julio Arellano was at the U.S. Polo Assn. Field at the International Polo Club coaching the Park Place team to the finals of the U.S. Open Polo Championships. “It was a tough loss at the end of the day (in the final), but when you’re facing (Adolfo) Cambiaso, what do you expect?” Meghan acknowledges that the world of professional polo is tough enough to navigate as an adult, so she and Julio have been selective about when and where to insert their children. When she refers to the children, she often insinuates they’re younger than 23, 21 and 18. When she catches herself, she clarifies: “They’re all adults now. We put them on ponies so early – it just seems like that was yesterday.”
In Aiken, Covid-19 restrictions are less stringent than in West Palm Beach, plus the entire family and even employees live on the farm. “In the last year, we’ve really had time to do things together that we don’t normally do: fishing and shooting. Being out on the farm, we really only got a dose of reality when we went into town every 10 days or so.” Mask mandates in the Aiken area don’t require wearing them for outdoor activities, so being at the polo fields is nearly normal for the Arellanos.
Julio will join the family again in a few days in Aiken for the spring season. Agustin will continue working as a pro and team manager for Woodrow Farm. Lucas will pursue opportunities playing professionally and Hope will graduate from high school with plans to take a year to travel. That sounds like more than enough to keep Meghan busy for quite some time.