Polo charge!


Polo is like playing chess on horseback, but you are actively on the Board! Each of the four players in the team have to constantly look around them to see where the rest of their team-mates are, where the opposition players are; where the ball is and where you are in relation to the goal and boundaries.  It is also important to know the ‘line of the ball’ as this is crucial to which angle at which you can safely approach it and from which side of the pony you can swing your stick (right-handed) at it. It therefore requires dextrous riding and balance, good hand-eye coordination, strength to hit the ball, team tactics and special awareness. It is fast and furious, and opponents can physically nudge you and your pony off balance. There are few sports with such an adrenalin rush! It is so fast and exhausting that the ponies have to be changed after each ‘chukka’ of seven minutes.
Not only do you need competent riders in the team, but each player has more than one pony, often a string of six or eight, complete with individual tackle, transport and grooms. It is therefore an expensive sport that is more likely to be played by those who own horses and can afford to play – ‘the Sport of Kings’.

The game has been around for a couple of thousand years, though the first tournament was recorded in 600BC between ‘Turkomans’ and ‘Persians’. In some countries, like Afghanistan, a version of the sport are played using a goat’s head picked up and hurled. British tea-planters came across the sport in Manipur, between India and Burma, and it spread through the British Empire where cavalry officers kept themselves and their horses fit. It arrived in the UK in 1869 as ‘hockey on horseback’and flourished while the British Empire has thousands of horses and cavalry. More than 77 countries play today but it has remained a key aspect of British sporting life in part because so many members of the Royal Family are excellent players.

Polo charge!
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