The sport of kings – one of the world’s oldest games is also one of its fastest. Balls can travel up to 110 mph. Horses gallop and cut at 30mph. Player and horse work in partnership to get a ball through a goal, while using every possible strategy to prevent the opposing side from doing so. What happens on that quest is both brutish and beautiful.
A polo game is played between two teams with four players on each side. The members are designated as “attack” or “defense” and each has the job of furthering their own goal tally while preventing the other side from scoring.
The line of the ball is a “right of way” established by the path of a traveling ball. Right of way occurs when a player has the line of the ball on his right; the player who struck the ball last has right of way.
Teams change ends after each goal is scored to account for any wind advantage which may exist.
Three to four players are on a team depending on the match.
A polo match is approximately one and one-half hours long and is divided into seven-minute time periods called chukkers. There are six chukkers in a high-goal match. Breaks between chukkers are three minutes long, with a 15-minute halftime.
Players score by driving the ball into the opposing team’s goal.
All players are assigned a handicap. Handicaps go from minus two to ten goals and are determined by competition committees in the countries where the players compete. There are only 12 or so ten goalers in the world. Players must hit right-handed for safety reasons.
The umpires generally call fouls for dangerous riding or use of the mallet. Penalty for a foul can be anything from a free hit to a free goal for the opposing team.
Polo fields are 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. The equivalent of 9 NFL football fields or 10 acres. An eight-yard wide goal, marked by ten-foot high goal posts, is centered on each end of the field.