Not everyone picks up a new sport at 49 years old, and quite frankly, Thomas Esser didn’t really expect to either.
“If you're going to pick [up a new sport], polo's probably not most people's first idea of, 'Hey, what do I want to do when I get older?'”
So why did the now 55-year-old try polo?
“My wonderful wife Kari one day out of the blue said, 'Hey, do you want to try playing polo?'” Esser said. “And I said, 'I don't have any idea if I want to try playing polo.' So we did because my daughter was riding.”
Now Esser says polo is just part of who he is.
“It became kind of a journey,” he said. “I didn't know where it was going to go. At 49, I had no idea I'd be here at 55 and I don't know where I’ll be at 60, but I knew there was a journey out there and it was one that I wanted to take.”
Esser is a member of the Milwaukee Polo Club and is gearing up for his seventh year playing polo.
“It's physical, it's a sport, but then you're with this horse which brings another being into play,” Esser said. “There's a beauty and grace with horses that I find hard to beat.”
With polo season upon us, Esser finds himself spending more time than ever with his horses. He practices several times a week. A single session can last five to six hours by the time he loads the horses, drives to the field, practices and heads home.
“The first thing I'm trying to do right now with the girls is as we're coming into the season, they're out of shape, so they need to get in shape,” he said. “But then I'm also trying to work on my seat, my comfort level that I'm comfortable with the ride.”
Thomas will play a match once or twice a week. He takes care of the animals every day. So is his wife happy that he’s out of the house and playing polo?
“When I came back after that first lesson I looked at her and I said, 'Kari, just so you know, this is what I'm going to be doing for the next 30 years,’” he said with a laugh. “And you could just see this look on her face going okay."
Esser is still trying to master the craft.
“I tell people I'm rated but my rating says he kind of stinks,” he said with a chuckle.
But he embraces the process and the small strides he makes each day.