Basic Rules of Polo


Smells Like Team Spirit

  • Polo ("hockey on horseback") is played with four pony and rider combinations on each side. The polo grounds are at least 200 yards wide, although some games can be wider. The game is divided into eight periods (called chukkas) of seven minutes each. Usually, a different polo pony is used for each chukka, although some prefer to have only four ponies and thus ride two chukkas per pony. The rider has his pony (usually a horse and not an actual pony), mallet, padded boots, gloves, spurs and helmet. The rider has to keep the mallet in the right hand.

The Point

  • The winning team is the side that can score the most goals by putting the ball in between the goal posts, which are usually eight yards wide and do not have a net strung between them. The four players are always numbers one through four. They have to play certain positions during a game. Number one is deep in enemy territory to play offense. Number two is the star position, who usually does the scoring. Number three is more of a coach, who can score goals. Number four is more of a goalie and stays on defense.

Foul Play

  • Most of the rest of the rules of polo concern which rider has right of way and what is considered a foul. When clashing together, players can get the ball by hooking the other player's mallet, stealing the ball with a bump of the mallet or shoving the rider and pony off of the right of way with his pony. A rider can't use hands, body or mallet to shove the rider off of the line. A rider cannot ride directly in front of a rider with the ball in order to steal the ball because of the danger.

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  • Photo Credit Polo player and pony. Image from Wikimedia Commons
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