The polo season is in full swing and to impress your friends here are a few facts and figures that can help you sound like you’ve been watching polo all your life – even if the closest you’ve got to a polo match is watching clips of Princes William and Harry on the news!
- Polo ponies are always called ponies – never horses – no matter how big they are!
- Ponies have their tails tied up and manes hogged (clipped off) to stop equipment getting caught in the loose hair
- Ponies wear standing martingales to prevent their heads hitting the rider in the face especially during sharp stops and turns
- Divot stomping is the half time practice of inviting spectators onto the field to tread in the divots ( turf kicked up by the ponies hooves) – heels are not recommended!
- The tradition of wearing white breeches or jeans goes back to India when under the intense heat riders preferred to wear light coloured clothing
- The polo mallet is actually called a stick and can be of different weights and sizes according to the rider’s preferences.
- A pony can score a goal for its team – as long as the ball crosses the line between the goal posts it doesn’t matter who knocks it through -pony or rider!
- Chukkas (period of play) are seven and a half minutes long, and there are between 4 and 6 to a match. The interval between chukkas is 3 minutes.
- A polo handicap is a system created by Henry Lloyd Herbert, the first president of the United States Polo Association, at the founding of the USPA in 1890 so teams could be more evenly matched when using players with varying abilities. The players are rated on a scale from minus-2 to 10.
- The handicaps of each player on a team are added together resulting in a handicap rating for a team. Tournaments are held in handicap categories: High Goal polo is considered to be for teams rated twenty goals or over, Medium Goal polo is for teams rated six to fourteen goals.
- Sudden death – no funeral directors in sight, rather overtime play when the score is tied at the end of the last regular chukka
- Teams return to the middle of the pitch after each goal is scored and change ends
- After 7 minutes of play a warning bell sounds. A second bell rings 30 seconds later if the ball has not gone out of play
- Name Dropper! The best polo player in the world is Facundo Pieres is part of the famous Pieres trio, which consists of the brothers Facundo, Gonzalo and Nicolás. The Argentine polo player was born on 19th May 1986 in Buenos Aires. He was the second polo player after Adolfo Cambiaso who received the highest possible handicap of +10 goals at the age of 19.
There! With all this info under your belt, you should be able to hold your own – or at least a conversation at your next polo match! Good luck and enjoy!