Field polo requires two teams of 4 players. A full-size field is 300 yards long, and either 200 yards or 160 yards wide if there are side boards—these are generally 6" high. There are tall collapsable goalposts at each end of the field spread 8 yards apart. The object of the game is to score the most goals by hitting the ball through the goal. Ends are changed after a goal is scored.
The game consists of six 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 the ball back into play.Hopefully, this will give you some idea of how the game is played. As I indicated earlier I have still not managed to figure out all of the rules. But no matter. The game of polo is a colorful spectacle unlike anything that I had ever seen before. I must tell you that the sight of eight horses charging down the field at full speed is thrilling. It also a refreshing departure from professional sports where all of the talk seems to be about contracts, huge egos and money. There are no multi-million dollar contracts here. For most of the players this is nothing more than a weekend hobby.
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Polo is thought to have originated in China and Persia around 2,000 years ago. The name of the game may well come from the word "pholo" meaning 'ball' or 'ballgame' in the Balti language of Tibet.
The first recorded game took place in 600BC between the Turkomans and Persians (the Turkomans won). In the fourth century AD, King Sapoor II of Persia learned to play, aged seven. In the 16th century, a polo ground (300 yards long and with goalposts eight yards apart) was built at Ispahan, then the capital, by Shah Abbas the Great.
The Moguls were largely responsible for taking the game from Persia to the east and, by the 16th century, the Emperor Babur had established it in India. (It had already long been played in China and Japan, but had died out by the time the West came in contact with those countries). In the 1850s, British tea planters discovered the game in Manipur (Munipoor) on the Burmese border with India. They founded the world's first polo club at Silchar, west of Manipur. Other clubs followed and today the oldest in the world is the Calcutta Club which founded in 1862.
Malta followed in 1868 because soldiers and naval officers stopped off there on their way home from India. In 1869, Edward "Chicken" Hartopp, of the 10th Hussars, read an account of the game in The Field magazine while stationed at Aldershot and, with fellow officers, organised the first game. Then known as "hockey on horseback," it was played on a hastily-rolled Hounslow Heath where a shortlist of ...