Polo is a sport that brings with it images of the upper classes, of excitement and power. The sport itself is frenetic, and on occasion, dangerous. It requires the utmost skill as horse and rider work as one to achieve the goal of winning.
Both men and women can play polo, and at the same time. In the formal game, there are four players per team. Number 1 heads the offence, countering the opposing team’s number 4. Directly opposing the the other team’s number 3, the number 2 position also in a position to pass to their own number 1. The tactical plans for the team are headed up by the number 3 player, who is technically the most proficient. Concentrating on defence is the number 4 player.
There is of course specific attire and equipment that’s needed for the rider. Perhaps one of the most important is the riding helmet, which are usually of a unifying colour to the rest of the team. In addition to this, a polo shirt is worn, again of a particular colour to signify the team the rider is playing for. It is traditional for white trousers or jodhpurs to be worn, although in non competition matches jeans can be worn. Some riders do wear special gloves and kneepads, although this is often down tot he rules of a particular polo club.
How To Play Polo
A polo match is divided into different rounds, or ‘chukkas’. In Outdoor Polo, a game is made up of six chukkas, each running for seven minutes. County Polo is played as four chukkas.
Polo is based around the ‘line of the ball’. This is a visual guide of how the ball will move down the polo field, projecting along the ball’s projected trajectory. The purpose of this line is to denote a safe way for players to approach the ball, which changes when the ball is hit in another direction. The players will remain on either side of the line of the ball, to move it along by passing.
They cannot cross the line unless it’s safe to do so. A rider with the line of the ball on their right has right of way, which means other players cannot cross in front. To move another player off the line of the ball it’s called a ‘ride-off’, and is played by shouldering another horse, or polo pony, off of the line.
The sport is incredibly fast paced and intense, and is played all over the world, with the UK, India, the US and Argentina among the key countries who play. If you get the chance to see a polo match, it’s definitely worth it!