BIG HORN — The polo fields at the Big Horn Equestrian Center carry a sense of relaxation on any given Sunday but prove exceptionally relaxing on the Sunday following rodeo week. Dedicated patrons use the Sheridan WYO Rodeo polo games and tailgate party as a time to wind down.

“At the end of the week, everyone comes down here to unwind, rest a little bit, and enjoy the polo,” Big Horn native Hugh Gustin said.

As numerous states and countries are represented in the arena throughout rodeo week, Sunday’s polo games and tailgate also hosted people from near and far.

“It’s a nice way to wrap up the week is to come out here,” Georgia Lanham, a Sheridan resident, said. “You can meet all kinds of people, and the draw for me is the cowboy polo.”

Lanham appreciates and participated in several of the week’s events, including the parade, powwow and polo.

For Lanham, strangers become friends at the BHEC. For example, as she passed by a polo player saddling up his horse, she waved and he warmly waved back. The two were strangers, yet the interaction made Lanham feel like they had been longtime friends.

“It’s so friendly and nice and I think part of it is being in the Sheridan community,” Lanham said. “That’s what exemplifies our community as a whole. You don’t have to be a stranger.”

On the other hand, the week sometimes involves visits with old friends.

Gustin now hails from Butler, Missouri, but graduated from Big Horn High School.

For the past 10 years, Gustin has brought his family back to Sheridan County for rodeo week. The family purchased season tickets and attend the rodeo each night while also fitting in driving for the parade and grabbing a bite at the pancake breakfast. Like many, Gustin and his friends appreciate the relaxed atmosphere the polo fields provide before having to go back to work or travel back home Monday.

“(We) just come out, relax, enjoy the mountains and scenery,” Gustin said. “It’s beautiful here.”

Sunday’s polo events include two amateur polo matches, two cowboy polo competitions between two teams made up of local ranchers and introductions for the newly-crowned rodeo royalty for their upcoming reigning year. Those events are supplemented by food vendors, drinks and color commentary by one or two announcers.

Whether traveling 5 miles or 500, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo’s polo games, cowboy polo and tailgate party allow bustling rodeo week participants to stop, relax and enjoy good company surrounded by mountains and green grass.