Polo is arguably the oldest recorded team sport in known history and is thought to have originated in China and Persia around 2500 years ago. Although known as “the sport of Kings” in reality it is open to a much wider public and is now played in many countries around the world by both men and women.
A brief guide to the game
The ground is 300 yards long and 200 yards wide. The goal posts at each end are 8 yards apart and are open at the top. A game of polo has periods of play, known as chukkas. A game may have 4, 5 or 6 chukkas and each chukka lasts 7 minutes. Players change ponies between chukkas. A goal is scored when the ball passes between the goal posts. If the ball is hit above the top of the goal posts but, in the opinion of the umpire, has passed between them, it also counts as a goal. Each time there is as goal the teams change ends. If at the end of full-time the scores are still level, the game goes on with double width goals until one team scores.
Field polo is played by two teams of four players divided into attackers and defenders. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals by hitting the ball through the goal. Each player is handicapped from –2 up to 10. The sum of the handicap of the four players on the team is the team handicap. An advantage is awarded to the team with the lowest handicap, using an equation that is too complicated to explain!
Polo is a fast and therefore potentially dangerous game. The rules are designed for the safety of ponies and players alike. The most important rule is “The Right of Way”, which exists to avoid high-speed collisions. The rule is explained below, as well as dangerous riding and sticking.
The Right of Way
The player who is following the ball on its exact course has the right of way over all other players, except one coming in exactly the opposite direction. Then they have equal rights. No player may cross that line, stand on it or intimidate a player who is following it.
Players are allowed to try and push another player off course by riding next to him and leaning into him. Contact must not be made at a sharp angle and only shoulders may be used. Sandwiching an opponent between two players is illegal, as is riding an opponent into another player’s right of way.
Hooking the stick of an opponent is allowed providing that the hooker is on the same side of the opponent’s pony as the shot he intends hooking. No shot may be taken which could cause a pony any harm or to trip.
Persons and Vehicles are admitted on condition that neither the Cheshire Polo Club Committee nor any person acting for them, will be responsible or liable for any accident, injury or illness, damage or claim arising directly or indirectly to any persons, horses, dogs, vehicles or property however such damage, injury or loss may be caused.
Safety helmets must be worn by anyone riding on the Club’s property.