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A Polo Primer
Rules, regulations and recent updates

Basic Rules

  • On a full-sized grass field, each team has four people.
  • The goal posts, positioned at each end, are 8 yards apart.
  • The full game is 8 chukkas (periods), but often in club matches 4 or 6 chukkas are played.
  • Each chukka is timed to last 7 minutes, then a warning bell is rung. The game goes on until the ball goes out of play, or for another 30 seconds, when the bell is rung again to end play. The chukka ends where the ball is.
  • The clock is stopped between the umpire's whistle to stop the play and the whistle to start play (ball out of play, foul etc.)
  • There are intervals of 3 minutes between chukkas and 5 minutes at half time. At the end of each chukka, players change horses.
  • After each goal, the teams change ends—this has been found fairest when there is a wind.
  • Penalties may be given if a foul occurs. Penalties vary according to the degree of danger and closeness of the cross. Some examples:
    • No player may hook an opponent's stick unless he is on the same side of the opponent's pony as the ball.
    • Dangerous play or rough handling is not allowed—a player may ride an opponent off, but must not charge in at an angle.
    • A player following the ball on its exact line has the right of way over all other players. Any other player who crosses the player on the right of way close enough to be dangerous commits a foul.

Polo Ponies

The horses, traditionally called ponies, are well-trained equine athletes. Able to stop and turn on a dime, they are considered faster than racehorses over short distances. [Learn more.]

Intro to polo with Nacho Figueras

Nacho Figueras is an Argentine polo player who competes in Argentina and in the U.S. as part of the BlackWatch Polo Team. In a short video clip, Nacho gives a brief overview of the game and tells Equestrian Life what polo means to him. [Watch it here.]