The playing field can be set up with or without sideboards. Officially a boarded polofield measures 140 x 275 meters long and an unboarded field measures 180 x 275 meters long. But in reality polofields in The Netherlands are around 225 x 115 meters.
The goals are placed on the end lines midway between the side lines. The posts are placed twenty-four feet apart, are ten feet high, and are made of materials light enough so that they will break in case of a collision.
The ball is made of light wood, usually willow, with no covering but white paint. It is 3 1/ 4 inches in diameter and weighs 5 1/2 ounces. Thepolostick or mallets are made of bamboo canes, or poly resins, which provide flexibility, and the mallet heads of willow or maple. The mallets come in lengths of 49 to 53 inches and selection is made according to the height of the pony being played. The ball is struck with the side of the mallet, not with the end. All players must a wear protective helmet with a chin strap and preferably a faceguard. Knees are protected with leather knee guards.
The ponies are provided with protective bandages or wraps on all four legs. Tails are braided, taped or tied to minimize interference in making the various shots. Several mounts are required for each player in a game, each horse usually being played only one period.
Four players constitute a poloteam.
The Number 1 and Number 2 players are primarily offensive players and advance the ball to the goal.
Number 3 is a roving player, and usually the best player on the team. It is his responsibility to be prepared to pass the ball forward, attack the goal himself, or drop back to aid in the defense.
The Number 4 or “Back” as he is referred to, is basically responsible for defense, altthough he may turn a play into an attacking situation much the same as Number 3.
The Polo Pony is an object of admiration. It is selected for his ability to carry weight at great speed, and for her endurance. Many Thoroughbreds or three-fourth Thoroughbreds are used.
Most of the polo horses are imported from Argentina.
The breaking of the polo horse starts around 2 or 3 years. After that it receives a 3 year polo training.
So when it is around 6-7 years it can play polo in official polo matches.
The female horse (mare) is better for polo. They listen better and are more active.
But the male horses (geldings) get more older then the mares.
A pony’s training must make the polo horse agile and responsive to every command and impulse of the rider. It becomes so familiar with the various shots and maneuvers that it can often anticipate his rider’s wishes. Action of horse and rider must be instantaneous to be effective. Thus the pony becomes also a real player in the game.
Two mounted umpires officiate on the field and follow the players. If a foul is committed a whistle is blown by either umpire. This stops the game. Both umpires must agree on the penalty to be assessed. Should they disagree, the referee, or third man, located on the sidelines decides.
A flagman, stationed behind each goal, assists the umpires by indicating if the ball passed between the goal posts or outside them.
Also called a period. There are four chukkers in a polo game, each lasting 7 minutes plus up to 30 seconds in overtime. If, during the 30 seconds, the ball hits the sideboards or goes out of bounds, or if the empire blows his whistle, the chukker is over. There is no overtime at the end of the sixth chukker unless the score is tied, at which time a seventh period of “sudden death” will be played.
A player returns to each chukker on a different pony, although he may rest a pony for a chukker or two and play the same pony again.
Start with Throw in
The four players of each team line up in the middle of the field, facing the side boards.
The umpire rides toward them, throws the ball between them, and the game play begins.
Play is resumed in the same way after each goal, with teams changing goals.
Also when a ball crosses the sideline or goes over the sideboards, it is considered out of bounds and the umpire throws in another ball between the two teams at that point.
No time out is allowed for an out-of-bounds ball.
Each player is rated on a scale of minus 2 to 10, by a national handicap committee. A player’s handicap is based on his net worth to his/her team with factors considered such as horsemanship, team play, hitting skills, anticipation and overall understanding of the game and it’s rules. The rating given to players is termed in “Goals”.
For example, if 4 one goal players formed a team, it would be a 4 goal rated team. If the opposing team handicap totalled 6 goals, there would be a 1,5 goal advantage (difference in goals x 4/6) to the 4 goal team at the start of the game.
Any time a ball crosses the line between the goal posts, it is considered a goal regardless of whether a horse or a mallet causes the ball to go through.
In order to equalize wind and turf conditions, the teams change sides after every goal scored.
The lefthand side of a horse.
The righthand side of a horse.
Hitting the ball behind and across the horse’s rump.
A player may spoil another’s shot by putting his mallet in the way of the striking player’s mallet. A cross hook occurs when the player reaches over his opponent’s mount in an attempt to hook; this is considered a foul.
A ball which is hit under the horse’s neck from either side.
Bump or Ride-Off
A Ride-Off occurs when two riders make contact and attempt to push each other off the line of the ball so as to prevent the other from striking the ball.
The horses are the ones intended to do the pushing, although a player may use his body as well, but not his elbows.
The angle of the bump must be slight so as not to be dangerous to the rider or horse.