An equestrian team sport, this is an outdoor game each team having four players. This is played on a polo field which measures 300 yards in length and 160 yards in width. The players need to play the game with great vigor and concentration. On an average the polo ball travels at the sped of 110 miles an hour. To begin the player stands in the gallop. The polo pony has to be bought in line with the ball. It can either be passed to the teammate or try and make a goal by carrying ball down the field.
Players have to drive forward the white ball into the opponent team’s goal. The ball which is either made of plastic or wood is pushed forward using a mallet with a long handle. The ball weighs between 4.25 and 4.75 ounces and its size are about 3.5 inches in diameter. The mallet used in the outdoor sport of polo has its head weighing between 160 grams and 240 grams and basically depends on the wood used and as required by the concerned player. The length of the mallet many a times are increased or decreased to suit the height of the horse.
This game of polo at the least takes about an hour and half and the time taken is divided into ‘Chukkers’ of each seven minutes. As the strain is more on the ponies, players should change them after every chukker. Probably the only game where the spectators participate is Polo at its interval. During this interval, the spectators get down on to the field what is called the “divot stomping” to replace the divots made by the pony’s hooves.
When we talk about the team in polo, at once what comes to our mind is the pony’s contribution. Hence, much importance is attached to the breed of the horse. The animal needs to be intelligent and strategic on the field and as such the Arabian horses are the best suited. Although, in many a case, the pony to be used is chosen with care as it is found to be very instrumental in deciding the fate of the game, it is not rare where ponies have been detrimental in the final outcome of the match.
Horses in many parts of America are trained and bred for the cause of polo. The horses of Argentina are cross bred with that of local Criollo horses to produce the finest polo breeds.
An indoor polo is often played where there are three players in each team instead of four. Another distinct feature is that the span of chukkers is different from the normal polo and this goes on for about 7.5 minutes. Another version of the same sport is snow polo which is played as the name suggests on snow or a frozen ground. Other sports although belonging to the polo family but considered otherwise are bike polo, water polo, elephant polo and segway polo.
More than 60 countries in the world play polo at ease and more than 50 million enjoy this every year.