Polo, where do we start? Well, it’s not just a clothing brand donned by Nacho Figueras. Great place to start though. The vision doesn’t suck.
The game itself is the perfect combination of power, balance, coordination, quick decision making, strategy and skill. I mean in a nutshell you are trying to hit a tiny rolling ball on a moving horse with a 4 foot long mallet while your opponent is trying to prevent you from doing so. Polo is athleticism and horsemanship at it’s best. It’s a sport all on it’s own. It’s challenging, complicated and takes a ton of coordination but that doesn’t mean you are not capable of learning it. In fact, most polo club instructors will tell you you don’t even need to know how to ride a horse to learn. Keep in mind It takes years to learn, decades to master and a lifetime to perfect. That’s why professional players, as the aforementioned, get paid the big bucks.
To some, polo’s appeal is the exclusivity—the fancy showboating, the champagne, the bling, fancy cars, the mystique of dashing professional polo players with foreign accents. Indeed, this sport at the higher levels does get very, very expensive, but you can also find polo at very affordable rates. While the pros enjoy playing polo on a huge grass field, 300 yards by 160 yards—the largest field in any professional sport (the equivalent of 9 football fields, set on 10 acres), the rest of us find more accessible ways to enjoy the sport…sometimes just playing in an arena or watching as a spectator.
There are different horses for each player every 7 minutes. A period of play within a polo match is called a chukker, which lasts 7 minutes 30 seconds. At the end of each chukker, each player dismounts and gets on a fresh horse. At the higher levels, the professionals are switching horses every 3-4 minutes, maybe more, to keep the fresh horse advantage. If you’re watching a 6-chukker grass polo match on a standard 300 x 160 yard field, that game will have a minimum of 50 different horses. FIFTY.
2 teams x 4 players per team x 6 chukkers = 48 horses. Add on 2 horses per umpire (2 umpires) = 52 horses. Are there two games that day? Go ahead and double that.
As a spectator
We’ve all seen Pretty Woman and the polo scene is one of the most memorable. Yes, most event matches are just like that, but don’t let that discourage you. Think of a polo event as a way to express your styly in a chic equestrian way or if you rather pop on a sundress and fancy hat and you’re good to go. Heels probably not a good idea as you’re walking on grass for most of the day.
Even when it seems like nothing is happening, ie. “Has anyone made a goal yet?” Polo is still enjoyable to watch because of the horses, the players and champagne. So get out there, go to your local event and take in some polo! There really isn’t a better way to spend an afternoon.