It was15 years ago and Jaymie Klauber was working as a fund raiser while living above Pattigeorge's on Longboat Key.
She was busy, perhaps too much so for a hobby. And, yet, her husband, Tommy Klauber, thought he would buy her some lessons.
"Tommy thought I would like it, but he probably also thought it would be like the tennis," Jaymie Klauber said with a laugh.
Her set of 10 tennis lessons didn't make it past eight, Certainly, polo was a lot more of a commitment.
Tommy was wrong.
Last week, Jaymie Klauber pushed a wheelbarrow in front of the stalls by their Sarasota Polo Club ranch ... yes ranch. She was feeding the seven thoroughbreds she now rides one chukka at a time. Yes, seven.
Today, it's unlikely a person could spend the day with Jaymie Klauber without seeing the word polo. It's on her clothes, her horse trailer and the restaurant she owns with Tommy in Lakewood Ranch ... Polo Grill and Bar.
It's a huge part of her life and will be even more so now the Sarasota Polo Club season is set to begin on Dec 30.
"It's extremely addicting," she said as she prepared a hay snack for one of her thoroughbreds. "There is an interesting combination that includes your relationship with your horse and your communication with your teammates. There is such a camaraderie."
Now 49, she thought back to those days 15 years ago, when she was introduced to the sport.
"Tommy thought I might enjoy the polo because I had ridden Western growing up in Pittstown, N.J.," she said. "My dad and mom, Richie and Nancy Barrie, both rode."
Her dad moved to Sarasota just before Klauber started her first lesson so she already was thinking about horses. "But polo was just a different world for us, and I hadn't ridden in 10 years."
Then she met her Lakewood Ranch instructor, Stuart Campbell. He forced her to take English riding lessons for a month before he would let her hold a mallet.
"Tommy didn't think I would make it through 10 lessons, but he bought me 10 more, and 10 more. I was on a horse by 8 a.m. every day and I was there until 11 a.m. I had to drive from Longboat across town and I did that for six years. I changed my job to part time. I was very disciplined."
Her involvement turned from sport to lifestyle. She dreamed of owning a home at the Sarasota Polo Club, but never thought she would have the means. Eventually, in 2007, everything fell into place. Tommy and Jaymie moved to the Polo Club and bought Fred's, which they turned into Polo Grill and Bar.
She said being able to buy the ranch was somewhat of a miracle. "I think we got the last loan before the crash," she said. "We didn't even live here at first. We rented out the house."
Jaymie's life became a combination of running a restaurant, her Fete catering business and caring for the horses she loved.
The actual polo is the payoff for Klauber, who is a recreational player. Most of the time she plays in lower level competition that allows her to be more involved in the game. Four times last season, she was asked to play in the Sunday feature matches alongside the pros.
Although she can't match the talent of the higher level players, she said it makes her game better, and besides, if she does anything right, she is a hero.
She isn't the only player at the club who has been consumed by the sport. Member Tammy Wyman has played for nine years.
Wyman calls the sport a great exercise that is therapy for her. She said she was addicted after her first lesson and has enjoyed the social aspect of the sport as well.
"The sport can be a little intimidating," Wyman said. "There is a lot of power."
It's a lot of power that can be hard to control. Klauber has been "double barrel" kicked, breaking four ribs, and also has shattered her ankle falling off a spooked horse.
She also gets blasted by the wooden ball because the recreational players aren't the best when it comes to aiming.
Sarasota's Renee Dinan is a novice player who knows the sport can be a bit dangerous.
She doesn't live at the club, but is working to get more involved. A year ago she purchased her first horse, an Argentine thoroughbred, and is looking for more. "I saw a Facebook ad about the polo school and I am naturally competitive," she said. "If I can play a sport with team goals, I'm in. And this is a full-body workout. The misconception is that the horse is working hard and the person is not. But you work everything, from head to toe."
Klauber urges anyone who has interest in the sport to contact the club about lessons or renting a horse and trying out a chukkar. She believes the social aspect and interaction with the horses is well worth it.
Then there is just the feeling of making perfect contact.
"There is kind of a sweet spot," Klauber said, a faraway look in her eyes as she thought back to some precious moments. "When you hit it, it makes that noise. It's an amazing feeling."