Introduction to Polo Origins: Polo was first played in over 7000 years ago, and was used to train the cavalry for battle. Gradually polo was picked up by the English and was brought the United States in the late 1800’s.
Basics: Each Polo team has 4 players on a side. The game is divided into 6 periods called Chukkers. Each Chukker is 7:30 minutes long, with a warning horn at 7 minutes, and two horn blasts at the end of the Chukker. Each player has mallet, which has a bamboo cane and a hard wood head. The ball is made of a hard plastic material, about 4oz in weight and about 3.5” in diameter. The object of the game is to hit the ball through your goal posts. After each goal, the players switch sides. This is to avoid any environmental advantages like wind, sun, etc. The field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide- bigger than 9 football fields.
Rules: The rules of polo are written and used to provide for the safety of both players and horses. This is mostly in the form of players staying on their side of an imaginary line, created by the direction of the ball. This is similar to the yellow line in the center of the road. Fouls are indicated by an umpires whistle, and award the other team a penalty shot at various points on the field, depending on the severity of the foul. Riders are allowed to push each other in shoulder-to-shoulder contact with the other players’ horses. This is called a bump or a ride off, and is legal. Players can also hook the mallet of an opposing player. Players cannot hit each other or their horses with the mallet.
Polo Ponies We call our horses Polo Ponies, even though they are actually horses. They are measured in hands, which is 4”. Most polo ponies are around 15 and a half hands high, which comes to just over 5 feet at the withers. Most polo ponies are thoroughbreds and are selected for speed, stamina, agility and maneuverability. Most polo ponies are at their peak between 8 and 10 years of age. However, some polo ponies can play into their early 20’s. Most polo players have at least 6 horses to play a polo game.
Equipment The players wear helmets, boots, knee pads and usually gloves. The horses have bridles, saddles, boots and bandages, clipped manes and tails braided and taped up.
Shots Players can make: Offside Shots (right side), Nearside shots (left side), back shots, neck shots.
Spectators Spectators are welcome at Southern Spring Farm & Polo Club! You can come watch practices and tournament games; We encourage guests to dress comfortably, and bring a picnic if you plan to stay for awhile. Well behaved dogs are welcome, but must stay on a leash. Check the Schedule on this website, or call for times of upcoming events. Thank you, and we hope to see you soon!
Dress Code Many people envision polo as the Kentucky Derby where ladies don their beautiful dresses and elaborate hats. But polo at Southern Spring Farm is a family event; casual and laid back. Comfortable shoes, jeans, or casual dress is perfectly acceptable. Of course, if you’d like to don your fanciest hat, you are more than welcome!
The Divot Stomp If you’ve seen Pretty Woman, you know about the Divot Stomp. It’s one of the oldest and most widely known traditions of polo. When the game breaks at halftime, spectators are invited to march onto the field to socialize and replace the mounds of earth (divots) that are torn up by the horses’ hooves during the game. This serves as a great time to meet new people, move around after the first half, and help keep the field safe and beautiful.
Safety As in any sport there are factors you have to be mindful of as a spectator. In baseball, foul balls may fly into the stands; in golf, a player may hit the ball off the course; and in basketball, a player may fall into the seats. In polo it’s the same. A player may get a bad hit on the ball and it’ll go flying into the crowd, or if spectators aren’t paying attention a horse may come a little too close to them. It’s up to the spectators and the players to keep the game safe and enjoyable, so watch the game and keep an eye on what’s happening around you.