Travis started small, has grown into polo star
Danielle Travis has made a name for herself in the world of equestrian polo.
The 31-year-old from Wailea has traveled all around the country for competitions. Now Travis, who currently resides on Oahu, is focused on defending her title at the USPA Women’s Polo Tournament Wahine Challenge, set for July 28th at the Honolulu Polo Club.
“I have a really good team, so I just want to go out there and have fun and usually we’re not super serious,” Travis said, who also was named MVP of the tournament last year. “That’s how we come out on top, is because we don’t let our emotions get in the way, we just stay focused.”
She also plans to compete in the highly competitive WCT Women’s Tournament at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club in October.
“I’m just excited to play with my good group of friends,” Travis said. “Anytime I get to go to the Mainland, it’s just an opportunity to go see my friends who I don’t get to see very often, so it’s really cool to go and hang out.”
Travis sat in her first saddle at the age of 4 and then found her true passion for polo at 16. Over the years, she has become well known in the polo community.
“Polo kind of embodied everything that I was wanting. I’ve become obsessed with it, addicted to it,” the 2005 Seabury Hall graduate said. “People just trust me with their horses because I’m good and ask me to ride.”
However, Travis realized she was falling in love with a sport that is stigmatized as elitist and expensive. She wants to prove that polo doesn’t have to be those things.
“There is a lot of misconception out there with this sport that you have to be super rich. I never grew up that way,” she said. “Just like with any sport, depending on what caliber of polo you’re trying to reach and how much you want to spend. … You start small and grow from there, that’s how I did it.
“I’ve been playing polo for 15 years and have owned one horse, and have managed to play in a lot of tournaments, which I’m super grateful for.”
Travis played collegiate club polo at Santa Barbara City College and later at Texas Christian University, earning All-Stars honors and qualifying for club nationals along the way.
“Since being in the intercollegiate world, it’s kind of trained me to ride all kinds of different horses,” she added. “But you really don’t know what a horse is about until you play it.”
Once she graduated, Travis bought her first polo pony — an appendix quarter horse named Boomie — from Craigslist in Texas for $2,000 and trained her.
“It didn’t take (Boomie) very long to pick up the sport. It came to her naturally. She’s awesome. She gets in the game and is never afraid.” Travis said. “Now she stays in Hawaii, unless I decide to move back to the Mainland again.”
Around 10 years later, Travis has traveled “all over” the U.S., collecting many titles and MVP awards in polo tournaments along the way.
In between her travels, Travis works with her startup business Polo Prospects, which helps clients find horses to buy for polo. Travis has also been selling real estate since 2014, starting on Maui before moving to Oahu.
“The one thing I love is the friendships and bonds that I’ve created with all these people, like, I encourage anyone who is going to college or community college, I just recommend that they go travel and meet people,” she said. “The more connections you have … there’s just no better feeling.”
* Dakota Grossman is at firstname.lastname@example.org.