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The Thrilling Sport of Polo: Horses Rules and Players

Introduction to Polo

Polo is a sport that has captured the hearts of many equestrians and sports enthusiasts alike. It is a horseback sport that is played with two teams consisting of four players each.

The goal of the game is to hit a small, hard ball with a long-handled mallet and score goals by passing it through the opponent’s goalposts. Polo can be played on a grass field or an enclosed arena.

The grass field is larger and generally played outdoors, while the arena is smaller and typically played indoors. The rules differ slightly between the two types of play, but the objective remains the same.

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of polo, from the rules of the game to the positions of the players, to give you a comprehensive understanding of this thrilling sport. Field vs.

Arena Polo

As mentioned earlier, polo can be played on a field or in an arena. Field polo is the traditional form of the sport and the most commonly played.

The field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide, which is equivalent to roughly 9 football fields. The grass is carefully maintained to ensure an even playing surface, and the goalposts are 8 yards apart.

Arena polo is generally played on a smaller field, no larger than 100 x 50 yards, enclosed by walls that keep the ball in play. The game is faster and more frantic than field polo, as players have less space to maneuver.

However, the ball is easier to control and the game itself is considered to be less dangerous since the walls keep the ball in play.

Main Objective and Rules of the Game

The main objective of polo is to score more goals than the opponent’s team. To do so, players must hit the ball with their mallets while riding on horseback and advance it towards the opponent’s goal.

The rules of the game are fairly straightforward, but it is important to understand them to fully appreciate the sport. The game begins with a throw-in, where the ball is tossed into the center of the field between the two teams.

From there, players must use their mallets to strike the ball and move it down the field. A player may only hit the ball with his or her right-hand side, except under certain situations.

Players may also ride off opposing players to gain better position or prevent them from hitting the ball. This is essentially a physical block that can only be done at an angle, and not straight on.

Dangerous riding or hitting can result in penalties such as a yellow card and even expulsion from the game. The game is divided into seven-minute periods called chukkas.

The team with the most goals at the end of six chukkas wins the game. If the game ends in a tie, an additional chukka is played until a winner is declared.

Players and Positions

Each team consists of four players: two forwards and two defenders. The players wear jerseys with different numbers on the back to show their position.

The number one is typically the team’s most aggressive player, responsible for scoring the majority of the goals. The number two is typically the team’s best defensive player, responsible for stopping the opponent’s counterattacks.

The number three is considered the team captain, responsible for dictating the team’s strategy and making sure that each player is in the correct position. The number four is typically the team’s second-best defender, responsible for providing backup to the number two.

It is essential that the players work together and play their positions properly. The forward players must stay up front to score goals, while the defenders must stay behind and protect their own goal.

The number three must be able to quickly transition between offense and defense, depending on the situation. Alignment is also a crucial aspect of polo.

Players must stay in their designated positions to prevent gaps from forming in the defense that the opponent can exploit. The captain must communicate with the team to ensure that everyone is properly aligned and responding to changing situations.


Polo is a beautiful and thrilling sport that requires great skill and teamwork. From the rules of the game to the different positions of the players, it is a sport that requires a great deal of coordination and practice.

Whether playing on grass or in an arena, polo is a unique sport that should be appreciated for its elegance and difficulty.

Horses in Polo

Horses are an integral part of polo, and the game’s success depends heavily on their well-being. Polo players use multiple horses during a game to ensure that their horses stay fresh and can perform at their best.

Horse rotation is a common practice in polo that helps to manage fatigue and prevent injuries.

Number of Horses Used in a Game

Polo players typically use at least two to four horses per game, with each horse played for a maximum of two chukkas in a match. A chukka is seven minutes long, and a game typically consists of six chukkas.

This means that a horse can play at most 14 minutes of a match, allowing sufficient time for rest and recovery.

Importance of Horse Rotation

Horse rotation is essential in polo to ensure that horses are not overworked and are given ample time to rest and recover. Polo is a physically demanding sport, and horses can easily become tired during a game.

Overworked horses can be more prone to injuries, which can potentially end a horse’s career or even be fatal. Rotating horses ensures that horses have enough time to rest and recover, which makes them ready to play their best when it’s their turn to enter the game.

This practice also allows for the players to hand-pick their horses according to the match’s individual conditions and requirements, maximizing the horses’ performance.

Required Equipment for Horses

Polo players invest in the best equipment for their horses to ensure their safety and well-being. Horses in polo require specific equipment such as polo wraps, bell boots, and saddles that are specially designed for polo.

Polo wraps are bandages that are wrapped around a horse’s legs to provide support and protection from impact. Bell boots are protective boots that are worn on a horse’s hooves to prevent injury.

The polo saddle is close-contact and designed to provide the rider with greater stability and control during the game.

Polo Ponies

Polo ponies are the horses used in polo matches, and they play a crucial role in the game’s success. These are often small but agile horses specially trained for the sport.

Polo ponies are bred to possess the speed, agility, and athleticism required to play polo.

Characteristics of Polo Ponies

Polo ponies must have specific characteristics that make them suitable for the sport.

  • Agility
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • An inherent sense of the game

They must be good at changing directions quickly, performing sudden stops, and accelerating quickly.

They should also display an innate understanding of the game and the ability to anticipate the player’s next move. Polo ponies’ size is also important, and they are typically between 14 and 16 hands high.

Small ponies are preferred because they are easier to maneuver on the field, but they must also be strong enough to carry the weight of the rider and the equipment.

Training and Care of Polo Ponies

Training and care of polo ponies require a great deal of effort and skill.

Polo ponies require specialized training that helps them learn the game’s methods and tactics. The ponies must acclimate to all the equipment they will be wearing during play, including the saddle and protective gear.

Polo ponies must also receive extensive veterinary care and optimal nutrition to maintain their health and performance. They require regular checkups, vaccinations, and deworming, in addition to more frequent physical therapies, such as massage and chiropractic.

Providing proper nutrition is essential to help them gain weight and keep their energy levels up. During match season, polo ponies should be kept in excellent physical condition.

They should be given regular exercise and practice, which helps them to steadily improve their agility and stamina. Regular rest is also required to prevent mental and physical burnout, which can affect their performance.


Polo is a high-octane sport that requires skilled and agile horses’ participation to be successful. Horse rotation, horse equipment, and polo pony training and care are essential in ensuring that the horses stay healthy, provide peak performance and enjoy longevity.

For a team to achieve success, they must care for their horses in the best possible way, which includes comprehensive care in every area and training them into excellent athletes.

Common Questions About Polo

Polo is a sport that has been around for centuries, but many people still have questions about its rules, ethical concerns, and how much it costs to play. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about polo.

Is Horse Polo Cruel?

The welfare of the horses is a top priority in polo, and many steps are taken to ensure that they are well-cared for during training and gameplay.

Polo ponies receive regular veterinary check-ups and correct nutrition and exercise tailored to their needs. In competitions involving horses, professional veterinarians are often on-call, and the horses are checked before, during, and after matches.

Professional players in the sport often invest time and monetary resources in their horses to ensure their comfort and safety. Furthermore, horse owners will only keep ponies that are fit to play and will retire them at any signs of ill health.

The truth is that with the right care, polo is no more cruel than any other field sport involving horses.

Do I Need A Horse To Play Polo?

It is essential to have a horse to play polo, as the game is played on horseback. It is almost unavoidable to participate in polo without a horse.

Acquiring a well-trained Polo pony requires significant investment, and the cost of maintenance adds up rapidly. Yet, there typically is an option to rent horses from ranches, clubs or find managers that lease horses.

Many people get into the sport by joining a polo club that provides equipment and horses. This is an excellent way to learn the game and gain experience before investing in a horse of your own.

Are Polo Ponies Expensive?

Polo ponies can be expensive, but the cost depends on factors such as age, experience, and breeding.

Prices for a seasoned polo pony can range from a few thousand dollars for a beginner-level pony to several hundred thousand dollars for the highest levels of play. The cost of maintaining a pony, which includes veterinary care, transportation to and from games, training, nutrition, and stabling, can add up quickly.

This expense is a key reason why many people limit polo to a once-in-a-while hobby, unlike other more accessible sports. This is also why many players will expand resources to acquire the best possible ponies to maximize their chances of success.


Polo is a fascinating and thrilling sport that requires significant effort, commitment, love, and time to master. Too often, those who have not been exposed to the game may form implacable opinions based on myths about the game, its method and the treatment of ponies.

However, as with most misconceptions, the truth is that polo is a sport with an intensely close connection between horse and player, with teams caring for ponies as cherished members of their family. In exchange, the horses provide a level of athleticism and intelligence that is rare in other fields of sports.

Overall, with the right resources, mindset, and inputs, polo is a game of prizes, relationships, and a lot of fun. In conclusion, Polo is a sport that requires a team of well-trained polo ponies and skilled players to create an exciting and challenging game.

In this article, we have examined various aspects of this sport, including field versus arena polo, player positions, horse rotation, equipment, characteristics, training, and care of polo ponies. We have also answered common questions, such as whether or not polo is cruel, if one needs a horse to play, and why polo ponies can be expensive.

It is clear that polo is both a demanding and exhilarating sport that requires commitment, skill, and dedication, with the horses’ welfare as a top priority. With the right mindset, resources, and inputs, it is a sport that players can master and enjoy.


  • Is horse polo cruel?
  • Do I need a horse to play polo?
  • What is the importance of horse rotation in polo?
  • What equipment do polo ponies require?
  • What are the characteristics of polo ponies?
  • How do players train and care for their polo ponies?

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