For Cameron Smith, horses were a part of his everyday life growing up, but never a passion. He remembers growing up in Bridle Trails and never quite taking to a sport that involved jumping over things and wearing a top hat and tux. He played all kinds of sports but had no interest in horses, except maybe to impress a girl in high school.
Fast forward to age 35 when Cameron traveled to Palm Springs to visit his parents and met a horse trainer his father was working with. Suddenly, everything changed. He began riding horses, training and playing polo.
Cameron is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a degree in mechanical engineering and industrial design, and he attended Stanford for graduate school. He returned home and began a product development firm. However, after his introduction to the sport of polo, he began to spend winters in Palm Springs for winter riding and training. He quickly fell in love with the sport.
Cameron’s son, Colby, has a different story when it comes to horses. Colby would visit Cameron and his parents in Camano Island, and Colby took full advantage of his grandparents’ horses. He began riding at the age of 4 and enjoyed all of the outdoor activities his grandparents’ home offered—from riding horses to riding tractors.
Cameron flew Colby down to Palm Springs a few weekends a month during the winter months, and Colby would ride in the kids' polo program. He rode ponies at first and would watch his father play polo and continue his training. As a child, Colby enjoyed riding more than playing little league or youth soccer. He grew up watching his dad play and today, Colby and Cameron both play polo.
“There aren’t many sports that a father and son can play together and be on the same level. So it’s nice to be able to have that—to be able to be on a team with him. There will be a point soon where he will be better than me,” Cameron shares as he recalls the first time he and Colby played together.
Two years ago, Cameron and Colby were in California and played on the same team. Just last summer, they played together again in the Pacific Northwest Governor’s Cup, and their team won the tournament. The Governor’s Cup is one of the largest competitions of the summer and is hosted at the Seattle Polo and Equestrian Club, owned and operated by Cameron and his father.
In 2012, Cameron began looking for a place to train and keep his horses, and he found a property in Bonney Lake that had just shut down. The property had a big field as well as an area that an equestrian center could be built. He stood on the field and looked out at the pasture, complete with cows and a view of Mount Rainier in the background and thought to himself, “This would be an amazing place to watch a polo match.”
“If you are going to build a polo field, build one that people will want to come and play as well as come and watch. Make it magical.”
A dream became a reality, and a family legacy was born.
For Cameron, the dream of building “the ranch” (Seattle Polo Club and Equestrian Center) was all about creating an environment for his son to grow up in and enjoy. It allowed father and son the opportunity to work together—from running the tractor to building the property and the fencing that surrounds it. They continue to work together to maintain the field and the property.
Today, the ranch is a true family business. Cameron runs the polo center with the help of his son while his parents (who are retired) run the equestrian center. His mother is famous for putting together home-cooked barbeques and dinners for everyone at the ranch. The heart and soul of this business is family.
“The real reason I started this was to have something my family, both my son and my parents, can build together and do together."