Arts & Culture

Five Minutes With: Equestrian exposition organizer Sandy Termotto

Sandy Termotto prepares to sally forth on a fox hunt in November 2006 at Airy Hall Plantation.
Sandy Termotto prepares to sally forth on a fox hunt in November 2006 at Airy Hall Plantation. File/The Island Packet

Sandy Termotto has been a horse enthusiast for most of his life. He rode when he was a child in New York. Upon moving to Hilton Head Island in 1973, he took up polo and helped form a club that played regularly. He's now president of Equus Ventures, the presenting committee of the annual Hilton Head/Savannah Equestrian Exposition, to be held Sunday afternoon at Rose Hill Plantation in Bluffton.

The event brings together horse lovers like Termotto for a polo match and a variety of other activities. The expos have raised about $175,000 throughout the years for local charities.

Termotto, a dentist by trade, explains how a horse can be more than just a horse.

Question. This is the seventh year for the equestrian expo. What's new this year?

Answer. We have a lot of equine artists that will be exhibiting in the art tent. They're coming from all over, from Charleston to Montana. We have a life-sized bronzed sculpture of a mare and a foal by the artist Joseph Adams. It's about 7 feet tall. We've done something like this before but not to this extent.

We have William Dunn coming who's an internationally recognized trainer. He's flying in a champion Irish sporting horse. It came in a week ago. It's a beautiful animal. Typically, a high jumper can jump four feet. This horse can jump six feet.

Of course the main event of the day is the polo match. We'll have our polo teams coming from Charleston and Aiken.

Q. Do you find a healthy interest for polo in the area?

A. People don't realize that there are about $39 billion spent on equine activities in the United States. In the state of South Carolina, there are more than 2 million horses. Aiken, Camden -- those places in particular have a high interest in polo and horses.

Over the years, horses have been the most important animal ever to be domesticated. They've been with man through war, farming, pleasure, exploration.

Q. Do you still play polo?

A. I played polo for 28 years. I retired. Now I just put on matches for charity. I still fox hunt and ride for pleasure. I've been around horses for 50 years. I live at Rose Hill and have several horses. In the summer we'll take the horses up to the mountains.

Q. When did you start playing locally?

A. We started polo in the area in 1974 with the Hilton Head Polo Club. In '82, we started playing at Rose Hill. Rose Hill is really the only polo facility between Charleston and Aiken and Central Florida.