Virtual Memorial for James Rice

Our dear friend and polo legend James Rice passed away on Dec. 3rd, '02 at the age of 81. He was in his tack room at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. James apparently had a heart attack. He was found on the floor with his hand in position as if he were riding a horse with a smile on his face. We will miss him. --Paige Beard

If you would like to post a message about James Rice on this Virtual Memorial please e-mail your submission to

On 12/15/02 a Life Celebration ceremony was held in honor of the passing of James Rice. Here is a link to some of the pictures. Photos by Kim Kumpart.

James earned his reputation as one of the most respected polo trainers in America. As a youngster in the 1920's, he started his career by exercising horses and cleaning tack and stalls for the Farish family at the Houston Riding and Polo Club. His natural ability and uncanny rapport with horses was observed by the famous 8-goaler, Ray Harrington, who hired Rice to work for him at Brandywine, PA. There he refined the fine points of horse management that made him an expert horse trainer and polo player. He later worked for Cecil Smith, Michael Butler and Dr. Madison Richardson and has the distinction of having a tournament named after him at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club.

James received the distinguished Philip Iglehart Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Sport of Polo at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame's Induction Ceremony on February 16, 2002.

David Cummings
USPA Executive Director
The loss of polo extraordinaire JAMES RICE was put into words by Eric Friden this morning as he give me the horrible news of losing James. He was the last 10-Goal Trainer living in the USA. James and Ray Harrington, Wayne Brown and Billy Wayman were always the men talked about when the topic was famous horses in US high-goal polo. Like Eric said "It will be hell walking into the Santa Barbara Polo Stands and not seeing James in the box as you turned the corner." Madison Richardson, who was like a guardian angel for James. Madison has looked after him for many years and has been well rewarded as James ,already late in years, made sure Madison was one of the best mounted patrons in the country. Take a look at history. James was with Cecil Smith for 25 years and Cecil was 10 goals for 25 years. James, I hope to see you in that big polo field in the sky and don't let Artie Cameron cross hook or Ray drink or gamble and make sure Big Gee is speaking English. Sir JAMES WE WILL ALL MISS YOU !!!!
-- Steve Crowder.

From left to right: Matt Ladin, Diego Cossio, James Rice, Doreen and Joel Ladin."Photos by Kim Kumpart.
-------------------------------------------------------------On behalf of the new generation of polo players and the collegiate and scholastic polo students in California, we join with you all to express our deep sense of loss from the passing of James Rice. We had grown to look forward to our long time supporter Suzanne Peika bring over James to our practices and events at the California Polo Club in Lake View Terrace, California. Not only we had the good fortune to the cheer and visits with James, but benefited significantly from a life time of polo experience. -- Andres Huertas

A usual sight at the California Polo Club in recent years. James Rice with members, coach and advisor of the University of Southern California Men's polo team. Photo by Kim Kumpart.

I first met James Rice at Eldorado while watching the Officers Cup and US Open. I was fairly new to the game and sat down next to Mr. Rice to watch the match. As the game progressed I expressed my dismay at not understanding the foul calls or plays. James proceeded to explain what was happening to me in such a clear and friendly manner that I lost my embarrassment and was given a new understanding of the game. He not only made that experience a wonderful one but his insights got me to think about playing in an entirely different way. He was warm, gracious and generous with his time. It was only later on that I learned just who and how important he was. His passing is a great loss.

Mark Yerby
Portland, Oregon

Polo has lost yet another legend. James meant so much to so many. My experiences with James were vast. I worked for Dr. Richardson in Santa Barbara and at Eldorado under the guidance of James. We had a great time. Many stories were past on through our friendship and I'll treasure those forever. One unique thing about James was his uncanny ability to remember horses. He could rattle off any horse from any barn from any era. James was in Houston last spring during our 16 goal season. I was excited to see him and proudly introduced him to our club. We learned alot about the club history from James. Many do not know that he was in Houston in 1938 when the Farish brothers built our existing facilities. We toured the town and had a time I'll not ever forget.

James had family in Houston, but his real family was Polo. He loved the people he worked for and respected everyone from grooms to patrons. There were special people in his life who always made sure he was safe. Suzanne, Matt, Mr. Alexander, the Butlers, and everyone else who was there for him, I know James loved and cared greatly for you. With that said we say goodbye to a friend and know that we are greatful for the time we shared.

Daren and Tammy Livingston

James Rice may be gone from this earth, but he will never leave the hearts and memories of those who were fortunate to know him, call him a friend, laugh with him, and listen to his stories while riding to polo, or trailering horses, or cleaning tack on a rainy day. Many thanks to all his California friends who looked after him in recent years, as well as celebrated and honored him and his accomplishments. Your memorial photographs and comments on this web site are much appreciated by those of us across the miles who share your thoughts and sentiments as we miss James together.

Best wishes,

Joyce Burke Lohse
("Baby Sister")
formerly of Oak Brook, IL

James Rice at the Santa Barbara Polo Club. Photo by Kim Kumpart.

I wish to share with those of you who were unable to attend James Rice Celebration of Life a poem I wrote the morning of December 15th the day of his ceremony. I know it was guided by James as I wrote it just once just as you see it here without a word of change.

I believe it is from him to all of you!

I must gallop to Eternity the call has come my way A call that cannot be denied
Not ever on that day.

My Spirit eyes are open now I gallop with winged speed I flash by all your faces
And Thank God for letting me be me.

I have my Lady Elizabeth and Lucky is at my knee, we are all young again as fit as we can be, riding wild and free.

A Mark of Fame I felt this year I Thank Ya All for that. Never do forget what Cecil Said
"If you can't get to the ball,you cant hit it!

So take good care of your mounts and they'll
Take good care of you.

Remember me I'll remember you
I'll be standing at the gate A Chestnut, a Bay and a Dapple Gray I'll lead off my favorite paint!

Suzanne I told last week, that a dream I Momma stood by my feet, "Boy she said the time is near, do not fear I will be here."

Be sure to write that we recognize a most important fact, we live our lives accompanied, an Angel assigned to each

Mine I treasure for this I measure a life I would repeat.

Let everyone know it's true for sure that Life is but a blink.

Head for the goal before the final whistle blows for LOVE is the KEY

And Doc Thank You for making me a part of your Family
And for all your great generosity.

I will send this generosity back to you in ways you'll recognize. It's just between you and me.

I am a rich man to have so many friends
I love you one and all

And "So is this good enough"? and "When are we going to eat?"

Love James Rice

A song was written called "The Polo Barn" for James Rice from his friend singer Howard Johnson. It is so beautiful we played it at James Life Celebration and we are having copies made now.

The artist is donateing the song to anyone who donates $100.00 towards the Memorial Fund. We are in the process of setting up that will benefit other groom/trainers and educate people in the proper care of a Polo Pony teaching fitness, training and care.

This is a work in process and we will let everyone know when it is complete.

For more information call Suzanne Peika 323 662 9962 or email at

"James Rice presenting Matt Ladin with the Best Pony Award at the James Rice Trophy Finals on April 28th, '02."Photo by Kim Kumpart

Paige Beard and James Rice at the James Rice Trophy Tournament at the Santa Barbara Polo Club, April 28th, '02. Photo by Kim Kumpart.

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