Speed, stamina, precision and a glorious tradition. This defines the game of polo. Originating over two and a half thousand years ago on the steppes of Central Asia, polo began humbly with goal posts that were sometimes miles apart and the game continued until one team could field no more combatants. Polo fields throughout the ages served as harsh training grounds for cavalry units. Such glorious spectacles drew crowds of spectators as well as non-military players into the sport and polo as we know it today became established around the globe. Polo played today is more formalised but it is still no less demanding of horse and player.
Modern polo is played on grass, a full size field being 275 metres (300 yards) long and 180 metres (200 yards) wide if un-boarded, or 140 metres (160 yards) if boarded.
Two teams of four players mounted on horses compete to put a 8.8 cm ball (today commonly made of a synthetic material, but in more ancient times from a root, “pulu” in Tibetan, which probably accounts for the origin of the name of the sport) through goal posts standing at one end or the other of the field and the teams change ends after each goal scored.
A complete polo match consists of either 6 or 8 periods or chukkas of 7 minutes each. The play is usually so intense that players normally require to mount fresh horses after each chukka.
In fast play, the co-ordination of man and horse requires split second timing and reactions of both and is indeed a thrilling sight to watch. Yet strength and stamina are no less important, and “riding-off ” – in which player and horse attempt to push aside another at pace to gain access to the ball – makes polo a game of endurance as well as precision.
To ensure safety for both player and horse, fairly intricate rules have been evolved to govern play. The chief body that oversees this is the Hurlingham Polo Association in the United Kingdom, and in Singapore, we play according to the Hurlingham Rules. In North America, the equivalent organization is the United States Polo Association or USPA.
Polo is played - weather permitting - from March to November. Club chukkas are played four times a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from approximately 5pm. There are several club events scheduled during the polo season, with major international tournaments held in June and October. The Club has a resident professional and qualified instructor for those keen to learn the “Game of Kings”