The Sport of Kings
One of the world's oldest and most exhilarating of games
Rules of the Game
A player is permitted to ride into another player as to spoil his shot. The angle of collision must be slight, causing no more than a jar. The faster the horse travels, the smaller the angle must be. A good bump can shake your dentures loose.
A player may spoil another’s shot by putting his mallet in the way of the striking player. A cross hook occurs when the player reaches over his opponent’s mount in an attempt to hook. this is considered a foul.
A ball which is under the horse’s neck from either side.
In the event of a tie score at the end of the final chukker, there will be a five-minute intermission to allow the players to catch their breath and change to a fresh mount before beginning a “sudden death” chukker in which the first team to score wins the match.
A chukker begins and many plays resume with the umpire bowling the ball between the two ready teams.
All registered players are rated on a scale of -1 to 10 (the higher the better). The handicap of the team is the sum total rating of its players and in handicap matches the team with the higher handicap gives the difference in ratings to the other team. For example, a 6-goal team will give two goals to a 4-goal team.
Should a team, in an offensive drive, hit the ball across the opponent’s backline, the defending team resumes the game with a free hit from their backline. No time-out is allowed for knock-ins.
The right-hand side of a horse.
Each of the four team members plays a distinctly different position. Since polo is such a fluid game, the players may momentarily change positions, but will try and return to their initial assignment. No. 1 is the most forward offensive player. No. 2 is just as offensive but plays deeper and works harder. No. 3 is the pivot player between offense and defense and tries to turn all plays to offense. No. 4 or the Back, is the defensive player whose role is principally to protect the goal.
Hitting the ball behind and across the horse’s rump.
Also called a period. There are six chukkers in a polo game (four in arena polo) each lasting 7 minutes plus up to 30 seconds in overtime.
The left-hand side of a horse.
Also known as a “stick.” The shaft is made from a bamboo shoot and the head from either the bamboo root or a hard wood such as maple. These vary in length from 48 to 54 inches and are very flexible in comparison to a golf club or hockey stick.
This occurs when two riders make contact and attempt to push each other off the line and the ball so as to prevent the other from striking. The horses are the ones intended to do the pushing, although a player may use his body but not his elbows.
Two mounted umpires (one for each side of the field) consult each other after each infringement and impose a penalty only if they agree. If they do not agree they ride to the sidelines to confer with the third man, known as the referee.