• THE SPORT
 

THE SPORT

The sound of thundering hooves.

The sharp crack of mallet against ball.

The crowd cheers and there is an undeniable spirit of camaraderie and competition – you are a part of the king of sports.

PLAYING POLO

  • A polo field is nine times the size of an American football field, almost 10 acres.
  • There are four players to a team. Each player is assigned a position, designated by the numbers 1 through 4.
  • The number 3 position is usually the highest rated player and captain of the team.
  • Each player is rated a handicap on a scale from minus-2 to 10, with 10 being the best.
  • Men and women often play in the same game and are not treated differently – experience, skill and status are indicated only by a player's handicap.
  • A polo match is usually comprised of six chukkers (periods of playing time), each lasting about 7 1/2  minutes, for a total time of close to two hours. When thirty seconds remain in a chukker, a warning horn is blown. Breaks between periods are 4 minutes long, allowing players time to change horses, but it is extended to 10 minutes at halftime.
  • The ball is typically clocked at over 90 mph.
  • If the ball breaks during the match, players may continue playing the largest piece.
  • Even left-handed players must play right-handed.
  • The mallet is made of cane with a hard wooden head (the end that hits the ball), and is approximately 4 ½ feet long, but varies according to the height of the horse.
  • Intercollegiate teams play indoors during the winter, which is their regular season.
  • Weather is a major influence, naturally enough in an outdoor sport, with players following the sun for more temperate climates, like California and Florida, during winter.
  • By the end of 2013, there were 1,933 USPA female polo players, and 3,020 male players. Also, by the end of 2013, there were 107 Intercollegiate/Interscholastic teams.

WATCHING POLO

  • Spectators line the sides, separated from the action by only yards, or less, if the horses run off the field to play.
  • Tailgating is customary at a polo match and happens on the sidelines of the field throughout the game, not just before.
  • There is often no fee to attend a polo match, with the exception of major events and charity events.
  • Polo is generally open to the public – entrance fees, if any, vary by club and event.
  • The match schedule will vary for weekday games, while featured matches and tournament finals are often held on Sunday afternoons, when clubs may offer tailgating, clubhouse or field side seating, champagne divot stomping, musical entertainment, etc. Friday evenings and Saturdays are becoming increasingly popular days for spectators.
  • Half-time brings the age-old tradition of “divot stomping,” in which spectators walk onto the field to replace the divots and socialize.

POLO PONIES

  • Although they are called ponies, polo horses are full sized – often Thoroughbreds – and contribute up to 80% of the rider's ability to make plays.
  • Most of the horses are mature females (mares), especially in higher goal matches.
  • If the footing in any way could risk the fall of a horse, mud from rain, for instance, umpires may postpone the game.
  • Polo players may ride anywhere from 2 to 10+ horses per game.