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Polo game rules

The game of polo is undoubtedly one of the most elegant and spectacular sports in the world. And the symbiosis between the rider and the horse as they go after their rival in pursuit of victory is a real treat to watch. However, being regarded as a rather elitist activity, many are unaware of this game's rules. If you happen to take part in a game of polo, you should take note of the following tips.

Teams, scoring, and duration of the match

In a polo match, there are four players that make up each team and are numbered between 1 and 4. The number 1 is the expert in making goals. Meanwhile, although number 2 is also a goalscorer, he has to take greater defensive duties. Number 3 usually is the captain and the best player in the squad so he should play his role in defining a strategy. Finally, number 4 is the defense specialist.

The duration of a polo match is up to an hour but it can go into extra time and last 90 minutes. In addition, the time is divided into periods of seven minutes called 'chukkers'. 3-minute breaks are between chukkers, with an additional 15-minute halftime breaks. To score a point, one of the players must roll the ball into the opposing team's goal.

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Photo: Engel & Völkers

Horses, the field, players and the referee

The horses that are used to play polo with must be a certain size. Their weight should be between 408 and 500 kilos, while their height should range between 150 and 160 cm. The ideal height should in fact be a standard 156 cm. Due to this stature, polo horses were previously called 'ponies'.

For safety reasons, players have to hit the 'ball' using their right hand. In addition, each one of them jumps to the field to play with a certain handicap, which is scored by a referee. Overall, this is between 2 and 10 points. There are currently only 12 players in the world who have scored 10 handicap goals. This is a good indication of the game's difficulty level.

Regarding the playing field dimensions, it must be said that the length stands at 274 metres, while the width is 146. In the middle of each end of the field, a goal of 3 metres high and 7 metres wide is placed. Meanwhile, a referee is in charge of counting scores and making sure all the rules are followed. When he announces an ordinary foul, the offended team is entitled to a free throw.

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