The mounts used are called 'polo ponies', although the term "pony is purely traditional and the mount is actually a full-sized horse. They range from 14.2 to 16 "hands (58 to 64 inches, 147 to 163 cm) high at the "withers, and weigh 900–1,100 pounds (410–500 kg). The polo pony is selected carefully for quick bursts of speed, stamina, agility and manoeuvrability. Temperament is critical; the horse must remain responsive under pressure and not become excited or difficult to control. Many are "Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses. They are trained to be handled with one hand on the "reins, and to respond to the rider's leg and weight cues for moving forward, turning and stopping. A well trained horse will carry its rider smoothly and swiftly to the ball and can account for 60 to 75 percent of the player's skill and net worth to his team.["citation needed]
Polo pony training generally begins at age three and lasts from about six months to two years. Most horses reach full physical maturity at about age five, and ponies are at their peak of athleticism and training at around age 6 or 7. However, without any accidents, polo ponies may have the ability to play until they are 18 to 20 years of age.
Each player must have more than one horse, to allow for tired mounts to be replaced by fresh ones between or even during chukkas. A player's "string" of polo ponies may number 2 or 3 in Low Goal matches (with ponies being rested for at least a chukka before reuse), 4 or more for Medium Goal matches (at least one per chukka), and even more for the highest levels of competition.
Each team consists of four mounted players, which can be mixed teams of both men and women.
Each position assigned to a player has certain responsibilities:
- Number One is the most offence-oriented position on the field. The Number One position generally covers the opposing team's Number Four.
- Number Two has an important role in offence, either running through and scoring themselves, or passing to the Number One and getting in behind them. Defensively, they will cover the opposing team's Number Three, generally the other team's best player. Given the difficulty of this position, it is not uncommon for the best player on the team to play Number Two so long as another strong player is available to play Three.
- Number Three is the tactical leader and must be a long powerful hitter to feed balls to Number Two and Number One as well as maintaining a solid defence. The best player on the team is usually the Number Three player, usually wielding the highest handicap.
- Number Four is the primary defence player. They can move anywhere on the field, but they usually try to prevent scoring. The emphasis on defence by the Number Four allows the Number Three to attempt more offensive plays, since they know that they will be covered if they lose the ball.
Polo must be played right-handed.
The basic dress of a player is a protective "equestrian helmet (usually of a distinctive colour, to be distinguished at the considerable distance from which onlookers are watching the game), riding boots to just below the knees, white trousers (often ordinary denim jeans), and a coloured shirt bearing the number of the player's position. Optional equipment includes one or two gloves, wristbands, "kneepads (mandatory in some clubs), spurs, face mask, and a "whip. The only piece of equipment required by the United States Polo Association (USPA) rules is the helmet or cap with a chin strap.
The outdoor polo ball is made of a high-impact plastic, but was formerly made of either bamboo or willow root. The indoor polo ball is leather-covered and inflated, and is about 4 1⁄2 inches (11 cm) in diameter. The outdoor ball is about 3 1⁄4 inches (8.3 cm) in diameter and weighs about four ounces (113.4 g). The polo mallet has a rubber-wrapped grip and a webbed thong, called a sling, for wrapping around the thumb. The shaft is made of "manau-cane (not bamboo because it is hollowed) although a small number of mallets today are made from Composite materials. Composite materials are not preferred by top players, because the shaft of composite mallets can't absorb vibrations as well as traditional cane mallets. The heads of the mallet are generally a cigar shape made from a hardwood called tipa, approximately 9 1⁄4" inches long. The mallet head weighs from 160 grams (5.6 ounces) to 240 grams (8.4 ounces), depending on player preference and the type of wood used, and the shaft can vary in weight and flexibility depending on the player's preference. The weight of the mallet head is of important consideration for the more seasoned players. Female players often use lighter mallets than male players. For some polo players, the length of the mallet depends on the size of the horse: the taller the horse, the longer the mallet. However, some players prefer to use a single length of mallet regardless of the height of the horse. Either way, playing horses of differing heights requires some adjustment by the rider. Variable lengths of the mallet typically range from 50 inches (127 centimetres) to 53 inches (134 centimetres). The term mallet is used exclusively in "US English; "British English prefers the term polo stick. The ball is struck with the broad sides of the mallet head rather than its round and flat tips.
Polo "saddles are English-style, close contact, similar to "jumping saddles; although most polo saddles lack a flap under the "billets. Some players will not use a saddle blanket. The saddle has a flat seat and no knee support; the rider adopting a forward-leaning seat and closed knees dissimilar to a classical "dressage seat. A "breastplate is added, usually attached to the front billet. A "standing martingale must be used: so, a breastplate is a necessity for safety. The tie-down is usually supported by a neck strap. Many saddles also have an overgirth. The "stirrup irons are heavier than most, and the stirrup leathers are wider and thicker, for added safety when the player stands in the stirrups. The legs of the pony are wrapped with "polo wraps from below the knee to the fetlock to minimize pain. Jumping (open front) or gallop boots are sometimes used along with the polo wraps for added protection. Often, these wraps match the team colours. The pony's mane is most often "roached (hogged), and its tail is docked or braided so that it will not snag the rider's mallet.
Polo is ridden with double reins for greater accuracy of signals. The "bit is frequently a "gag bit or "Pelham bit. In both cases, the gag or shank rein will be the bottom rein in the rider's hands, while the snaffle rein will be the top rein. If a gag bit is used, there will be a drop noseband in addition to the cavesson, supporting the tie-down. One of the rein sets may alternately be "draw reins.
The playing field is 300 by 160 yards (270 by 150 m), the approximate area of nine "American football fields, while arena polo is 96 x 46 metres. The playing field is carefully maintained with closely mowed turf providing a safe, fast playing surface. Goals are posts which are set eight yards apart, centred at each end of the field. The surface of a polo field requires careful and constant grounds maintenance to keep the surface in good playing condition. During half-time of a match, spectators are invited to go onto the field to participate in a polo tradition called "divot stamping", which has developed to not only help replace the mounds of earth (divots) that are torn up by the horses' hooves, but to afford spectators the opportunity to walk about and socialise.
The game consists of four to eight 7 minute chukkas, between or during which players change mounts. At the end of each 7 minute chukka, play continues for an additional 30 seconds or until a stoppage in play, whichever comes first. There is a four-minute interval between chukkas and a ten-minute halftime. Play is continuous and is only stopped for penalties, broken tack (equipment) or injury to horse or player. The object is to score goals by hitting the ball between the goal posts, no matter how high in the air. If the ball goes wide of the goal, the defending team is allowed a free 'knock-in' from the place where the ball crossed the goal line, thus getting ball back into play.
With most clubs in the UK, players need to become members, and invest in at least two ponies to be able to play "standard" club chukkas. It is usual to play four back-to-back chukkas using each pony for two chukkas alternately, so that they each play, then rest and then play again.
For many people, this requires a very large financial investment, which can be too costly for some. County Polo creates more affordable parameters for newcomers to the sport. Players are only required to use one pony, which may be hired, or owned. This form of polo is usually played with three players per side—as opposed to the standard four-player polo—and therefore allows each player to get more involved and develop.
The County Polo chukkas are usually overseen by a qualified mounted "Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) instructor/umpire, who will coach and explain throughout the chukka.
With this format, including shorter chukkas, with breaks in between, the ponies are not getting over tired, so there is no need for such a large "string". Players may well continue to play polo at this level for many years, or players with more ambition could benefit from the tuition if they move onto more competitive polo.
County Polo is best complemented with regular stick-and-ball sessions, and regular wooden horse practice.
County Polo has had a resurgence in recent years["citation needed], although the original County Polo Association was formed in 1898* to look after the interests of the country clubs and to run the County Cup Tournaments), the three London polo clubs—Hurlingham, Ranelagh and Roehampton—and from all associations within the Empire where polo was being played.
Polo is now an active sport in 77 countries, and although "its tenure as an Olympic sport was limited to 1900–1939, in 1998 the "International Olympic Committee recognised it as a sport with a bona fide international governing body, the "Federation of International Polo. The "World Polo Championship is held every three years by the "Federation of International Polo.
Polo is, however, played professionally in only a few countries, notably "Argentina, Australia, "Brazil, Canada, "Chile, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, "Iran, India, New Zealand, "Mexico, Pakistan, Jamaica, Spain, Switzerland, the "United Kingdom, and the United States. Polo is unique among team sports in that amateur players, often the team patrons, routinely hire and play alongside the sport's top professionals.
The most important tournaments of the world, in a clubs level, are Abierto de Tortugas, "Abierto de Hurlingham and "Abierto Argentino de Polo, all of them in "Argentina (la Triple Corona).
The "United States Polo Association (USPA) is the governing body for polo in the U.S. The U.S. is the only country that has separate women's polo, run by the "United States Women's Polo Federation.
The modern sport has had difficulty grappling with the traditional social and economic exclusivity associated with a game that is inevitably expensive when played at a serious level. Many polo players genuinely desire to broaden public participation in the sport, both as an end in itself and to increase the standard of play, while others value and seek to preserve the social and economic exclusivity of the sport. The popularity of polo has grown steadily since the 1980s["citation needed].
East and Southeast Asia
Polo has been played in "Malaysia and "Singapore, both of which are former British colonies, since being introduced to Malaysia in during the late 19th century. "Singapore Polo Club was formed in 1886. The oldest polo club in the modern country of Malaysia is Selangor Polo Club, founded in 1902. It was largely played by royalty and the political and business elite.
Polo was played at the "2007 Southeast Asian Games. Nations that competed in the tournament were Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. The tournament's gold medal was won by the Malaysian team, followed by Singapore with silver and Thailand with bronze.
The traditional or 'free style' Polo or Pulu of Northern Pakistan is still played very avidly in its native region, and the annual "Shandur Polo Festival at "Shandur Top in "Chitral District. It is an internationally famed event attended by many enthusiasts from all over the world. The Shandur polo ground is said to be the highest polo ground in the world, at approximately 3,734 metres,
The recent surge of excitement in south-east Asia around the game has resulted in its popularity in cities such as "Pattaya, "Kuala Lumpur and "Jakarta. In Pattaya alone, there are 3 active polo clubs: Polo Escape, Siam Polo Park and Thai Polo and Equestrian Club. Indonesia, a country without royal ruling, has a polo club (Nusantara Polo Club). More recently, Janek Gazecki and Ruki Baillieu have organised polo matches in parks "around metropolitan Australia, backed by wealthy sponsors."
A new Chinese Equestrian Association has been formed and two new clubs have been formed in China itself: the Beijing Sunny Time Polo Club, founded by Xia Yang in 2004 and the Nine Dragons Hill Polo Club in Shanghai, founded in 2005.
Polo is not widely spread in West Asia, but still counts 5 active clubs in Iran, 4 active polo clubs in the "UAE, one club in "Bahrain  and The Royal Jordanian Polo Club, in "Amman, "Jordan.
Polo in Iran is governed by the Polo Federation of Iran. There are five polo clubs in Iran: Ghasr-e Firoozeh, Nowroozabad, Army Ground Forces, Kanoon-e Chogan and Nesf-e Jahan. Iran possesses some of the best grass polo fields in the region. The country currently has over 100 registered players of which approximately 15% are women. Historically, Kurdish and Persian Arabian horses were the most widely used for polo. This was probably also the case in ancient times. Today Thoroughbreds are being increasingly used alongside the Kurdish and Persian Arabian horses. Some players have also been experimenting with Anglo-Arabians. Iranians still refer to the game of polo by its original Persian name of "Chogan", which means mallet. Iranians still maintain some of the ancient rituals of the game in official polo matches.
Polo first began its Irish history in 1870 with the first official game played on Gormanstown Strand, Co. Meath. Three years later the All Ireland Polo Club was founded by Mr. Horace Rochford in the Phoenix Park. Since then the sport has continued to grow with a further seven clubs opening around the country. The sport has also been made more accessible by these clubs by the creation of more affordable training programmes such as from beginner to pro programme at Polo Wicklow.
Notable players / 10 handicap players
Sagol Kangjei, discussed above, is arguably a version of polo though it can also be seen as the precursor of modern outdoor polo.
"Arena polo (or indoor polo) is an affordable option for many who wish to play the sport, with rules similar to the regular version. The sport is played in a 300 by 150 feet (91 by 46 m) enclosed arena, much like those used for other equestrian sports; the minimum size is 150 by 75 feet (46 by 23 m). There are many arena clubs in the United States, and most major polo clubs, including the Santa Barbara Polo & Raquet Club, have active arena programmes. The major differences between the outdoor and indoor games are: speed (outdoor being faster), physicality/roughness (indoor/arena is more physical), ball size (indoor is larger), goal size (because the arena is smaller the goal is smaller), and some penalties. In the United States and Canada, collegiate polo is arena polo; in the UK, collegiate polo is both.
Forms of arena polo include "beach polo, played in many countries between teams of three riders on a sand surface, and "cowboy polo, played almost exclusively in the western United States by teams of five riders on a dirt surface.
Another modern variant is snow polo, which is played on compacted snow on flat ground or a frozen lake. The format of snow polo varies depending on the space available. Each team generally consists of three players and a bright coloured light plastic ball is preferred.
Snow polo is not the same sport as "ice polo, which was popular in the US in the late 1890s. The sport resembled "ice hockey and "bandy but died out entirely in favour of the Canadian ice hockey rules.
A popular combination of the sports of polo and lacrosse is the game of "polocrosse, which was developed in Australia in the late 1930s.
These sports are considered as separate sports because of the differences in the composition of teams, equipment, rules, game facilities etc.
Polo is not played exclusively on horseback. Such polo variants are mostly played for recreational or tourist purposes; they include "canoe polo, "cycle polo, camel polo, "elephant polo, golfcart polo, "Segway polo and "yak polo. In the early 1900s in the United States, cars were used instead of horses in the sport of "Auto polo. "Hobby Horse Polo is using "hobby horses instead of ponies. It uses parts of the polo rules but has its own specialities, as e.g. 'punitive sherries'. The Hobby Horse variant started 1998 as a fun sport in south western Germany and lead 2002 to the foundation of the First Kurfürstlich-Kurpfälzisch Polo-Club in "Mannheim. In the meantime it gained further interest in other German cities.
- "Buzkashi involves two teams of horse riders, a dead goat and few rules. It is played in Central Asia, and has a variant known as kokpar which is quite similar.
- "Cowboy polo uses rules similar to regular polo, but riders compete with "western saddles, usually in a smaller arena, using an inflatable rubber "medicine ball.
- "Horseball is a game played on horseback where a ball is handled and points are scored by shooting it through a high net. The sport is a combination of polo, "rugby, and "basketball.
- "Pato was played in "Argentina for centuries, but is much different than modern polo. No mallets are used, and it is not played on grass.
- "Polocrosse is another game played on horseback, a cross between polo and "lacrosse.
- "Water polo shares a name with polo, but more closely resembles "handball.
Polo on other means of transportation
- "Auto polo was a motorsport invented in the United States with rules and equipment similar to polo but using automobiles instead of horses.
- "Cycle polo is a similar game played on "bicycles instead of horses.
- "Elephant polo is played in "South Asia.
- "Motoball (Motorcycle Polo) was invented in the United States.
- "Segway polo originated in the United States.
- "Yak polo is played in "Mongolia.
- "Canoe polo is played around the world in kayaks and governed by the "International Canoe Federation
- "Federation of International Polo
- "PIPA Polo Instructors and Players Association
- "World Polo Championship
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