Game

The Game

The sport of polo is a team sport unlike any other that showcases the powerful bond between the player and their equine partner. Polo is played on a very large field that is approximately the size of nine football fields (300 x 160 yards). This large field is necessary to accommodate the intense speed and pace of the game. The goal posts stand eight yards apart at either end of the field and a goal is scored by hitting the ball between the goal posts, at any height.

Each team consists of four players, numbered one through four. The number one player, being the offensive player and the number four player, being the most defensive. The number two and three players are considered to be mid-fielders and help transition plays from defense to attack. Each player is assigned a rating, also known as a handicap or goals, based on his or her experience and skill on the field. Beginners are assigned a C (-2) or B (-1) rating. From there, as skills improve, the players are rated from A(0) to the top rating of 10 goals. The aggregate handicaps of the four plays are added to give the team handicap.

The game is comprised of periods or chukkers that last for seven and a half minutes. Games at the OKC Polo Club consist of four, five or six chukkers. Players will change mounts in the break between chukkers and some will also change mounts mid-chukker. Polo ponies are generally thoroughbreds that stand an average of 15 to 16 hands high at the withers. An ideal polo pony has a steady temperament, is responsive during intense play and possesses stamina, agility and maneuverability.

Because the primary focus in polo is safety of the horse and player, the rules focus on avoiding injury. With horses hitting speeds of 35mph, the most significant rule governing play is "right of way," as designated by what is referred to as the " line of the ball." Players can hit the ball from either side of their mounts (though they can only use their right hand to carry the mallet) and once the ball is in play, the "line of the ball" is established. The player who is closest to the ball, with the narrowest angle has the right of way. Opposing players cannot cross the line too closely to the player who has the right of way, nor can they approach the player with the right of way at too sharp of an angle. Doing so risks that player receiving a foul and subsequent penalty. The severity of the penalty depends on how dangerous the infraction was or how much a player was disadvantaged by the infraction.

 

For more information about the rules and logistics of the game, please visit

the United States Polo Association.

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