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The growth in The Villages over the years has been incredible.  There are so many newcomers that have never been exposed to a polo match.  The first images that come to mind of attending a polo event are beautifully dressed woman wearing stilettos, big hats and men in linen.  Will it be ok to come to a match looking like that, you bet!  Will it be ok to come to a match in your jeans, yes!  Will it be ok to bring my grandchildren, yes!  Will I be able to meet and talk to the players, yes!  Sitting in the stadium, or in the tailgating area, you may be confused by what is happening.  We have added this copy of a brochure that is usually available at the stadium during a match.  It gives you some of the high points of polo play to help you understand what is going on, and you can enjoy the match.  We highly recommend it to all newcomers. 

Polo is a ball game played on horseback, a traditional field sport and one of the world's oldest known team sports. The game is played by two opposing teams with the objective of scoring using a long-handled wooden mallet to hit a small hard ball through the opposing team's goal.  Each team has four mounted riders, and the game usually lasts one to two hours, divided into periods called chukkas or "chukkers".

The Game
​The length of the game is divided into six Chukkers (periods), seven and a half minutes each. The field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. On the end line at each end are goal posts, twenty four feet apart. Points are scored by hitting the ball between the posts. Each time a goal is scored the teams change direction of play. It is legal to “hook” the hitter’s mallet. It is also legal to ride your horse alongside another horse and push them aside in order to gain possession of the ball. That is called a ‘ride off’ and must be done shoulder to shoulder and at relatively the same speed. In between chukkers there is a four-minute break for players to change ponies. After three chukkers there is a ten-minute “half time.” With time-outs for penalties and the like, a typical match lasts one-and-a-half hours.


There are four players on the field for each team, wearing a jersey numbered 1 through 4.
The roles of each player are:

  • #1 The Forward: Always out in front - should score most of the goals.

  • #2 The Hustler: Quick and aggressive with fast ponies.

  • #3 The Pivot: The quarterback and captain.

  • #4 The Back: Defender. There are no goalies. It’s their job to stop the goal shots.

Helmets are required, and some have face masks. Most players wear padded knee guards and they all have to wear boots.

It’s a solid bamboo cane with a hard wood head. It’s about 4 1/2 feet long and you hit a baseball-sized ball made of solid plastic with the side of the mallet, not the end. All players must hold the mallet in the right hand; left-handed play is not allowed.

The Ball
Today’s polo ball is a baseball-sized ball made of solid plastic. Historically polo balls were made out of wood.

The Horse
They are called polo ponies. Most are former race horses, high-speed Thoroughbreds with exceptional abilities. The tail is braided to stay out of the way of the mallet. The mane is clipped off so the player can see the ball, and to prevent the reins from getting tangled up. The idea is for each player to have six ponies - one for each chukker.

Horse Equipment
Polo horses are required to wear a bridle, an English saddle, and their legs are wrapped for support and added protection.


The objective of the game is to carry the ball the downfield trying to score through the goalposts. After each goal the team swap sides, this makes it fair as weather conditions are compensated for. The rules largely apply to the players and their ponies. The line of the ball The basic rule is the line of the ball, which is determined by the course of the traveling ball. The line is set for the safety of the players and their ponies.

When the Player has the line of the ball on his Right Side he has the ‘Right of way’. No Player shall cross the line unless it is at such distance that the slightest risk of collision or danger to the Player and horse involved. However the line can be ‘stolen’ by other players - this can be done by moving the player of the line shoulder by shoulder, in a so-called ‘ride off’, to steal the ball.
Fouls in field polo are penalized by penalties and spots. The more dangerous the foul is the harsher the penalty will be.

  • 1. 25 yards (penalty one) a. It can be defended by the fouling team

  • 1. 15 yards (penalty two) a. This penalty is undefended by the fouling team. The moment the shot is released one Player can run up and defend the goal.

  • 1. 25 yards (penalty three) a. This penalty is completely undefended. A player may hook an opponent’s mallet/stick, push him of the line of the ball shoulder by shoulder. The player who last struck the ball has the right of way which no other player can cross - unless the distance is so great that any possible collisions can easily be avoided.

Polo matches are divided up into time periods called ‘chukkers’. Usually, there are 4 chukkers in each match however in the ‘high-goal’ there are 6 to 8 chukkers.

Each Chukker is seven minutes and thirty seconds long, sometimes the chukkers can be six minutes and thirty seconds, after those seven minutes a Bell is rung to indicate that thirty seconds remaining in the game. However during the last thirty seconds, if the player fouls, the ball goes out of play or hits the boarding, the chukker ends. The last chukker is played until the first bell at seven minutes. Breaks between chukkers are three minutes long with a five-minute halftime.

Polo Players are rated yearly on a scale of -2 to 10 goals, by regional and national handicap committees. All players male and female are rated under the same handicap system. A player's handicap is based on the net worth to the team play, hitting skills, anticipation, and overall understanding of the game and its rules. The rating given to players is termed in “Goals”. For example, if 4 three goals players formed a team, it would be a 12-goal team. If the opposing team's handicap is totaled 10 goals, there would be a goal advantage (difference in goals divided by 2) to the 10-goal team at the start of the game. Polo Matches are played in three levels(low goal, medium goal, and high goal) depending on a polo team’s total of each player’s handicap.

The term goal does not refer to how many goals the player will score in a match but indicates the players value to the team.

Player handicap range from “Novice” -2 to “Perfect” (10 goal).

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