The Whole Gang!
Our instructors have decades of experience riding, showing and training horses. Together with our well-trained, wonderful lesson horses, they bring a vast, robust knowledge base to the exciting sports of English horseback riding and polo.
Meet the Owners
Tara is constantly working to become a better rider, trainer and instructor, having trained with several instructors over the years and done clinics with hundreds more. Believing that we can learn something from everyone, she takes clinics every year with different people and rides with as many different personalities as possible. Her favorites so far have been Brian Sabo and Bernie Traurig. She seeks out clinicians who can challenge her and also explain things in new and different ways so she has more information to share with her students.
Although she trains at many levels, Tara’s passions are the young horse and young rider. She has had a quiet career at Cottonwood helping people with their horses and mentoring young horsepeople, and finds that deeply meaningful. Many other trainers send her young horses for summer training so they can show out of state in the fall. She relishes the challenge of teaching a young, “hot” horse to be calm and accept a rider of any level. She loves helping horse and rider become a high-functioning team.
In addition to training horses and their riders, Tara manage the business side of Cottonwood with her sister, Erica. Not only is she a busy business owner but she’s also the mother of two amazing girls and wife of an even more amazing man who understands that horses sometimes have to come first. Her daughters are confident and brave and promise to be great riders and trainers themselves someday, following in family tradition.
Erica’s parents, John and Chris Gandomcar, founded the Denver Polo Club in 1986 and raised her in the sport, lifestyle, and business of polo. Erica embraces this family history and legacy with pride and travels the world, competing professionally. She also promotes polo as both a player and a manager of the Cottonwood Riding Club – home to the Denver Polo Club, which has become legendary within the Rocky Mountain region and is now under her leadership.
Erica studied and played intercollegiate polo at Colorado State University, earning Regional All-Star and All-American status each of the four years she played for the team. In her first year with the team, CSU won the Regional Championship and placed second in the National Championship.
During the last few years Erica has solidified her rise to the top tier of women’s professional polo in the U.S. with multiple wins and MVP awards in the premier women’s league in the United States – the Women’s Championship Tournament – including winning the WCT’s World Cup in 2007 and earning Best Playing Pony. Internationally, she earned back-to-back wins at the 2007 and 2008 Shanghai Tang International Women’s Tournament in Singapore, with an MVP award also at the tournament in 2008. Erica has twice won the International Ladies Polo Tournament – 2007 and 2008 – at the Kingston Polo Club in Kingston, Jamaica. She was also named Colorado Sports Women of the year. Her wins continue to this day with multiple WCT and mixed tournaments around the world but now she has a little girl who hopes to follow in her mom’s footsteps.
Polo and family are her passions, her life, her heart and soul.