The Sport of Kings
A sport unlike any other, polo showcases the powerful bond between a player and his or her equine partner. As one of the oldest team sports, polo is an exhilarating combination of horsepower, athleticism and control. Competing on a 300 by 150 feet indoor or outdoor
arena, players score by driving the ball into
the opposing team’s goal using a bamboo
mallet while riding at speeds of up to 35 mph.
Plays are based on the “line of the ball,” an imaginary line created by the ball as it
travels down the field. It represents a right-of-way for the last player striking the ball,
and is the basis for most fouls in the game. Players may try to hook or “ride off” their
opponents in an effort to gain control of the ball.
TEAMS AND HANDICAPS
A team consists of four mounted players and can be a mix of both men and women.
Players are handicapped on a scale of -2 to 10, as determined by a player’s horsemanship, hitting ability, quality of horses, team play and game sense. The team handicap is the sum of its players’ total handicaps. A player’s jersey number reflects the position they play, with each number indicating a different objective.
Although the real stars of the game are called polo “ponies,” the term is just a tradition; an old rule limiting their height was dropped in 1919. Today’s players prefer horses with a Thoroughbred’s speed and stamina in their bloodlines. These fourlegged athletes can run two miles in a single chukker: seven-and-a-half minutes of starting, stopping, swapping from offense to defense in a single stride. The mane is shaved and the tail wrapped so that they are not entangled in reins, mallets and other equipment, especially when the horses are bumping shoulder to shoulder at 35 mph.