Polo is a sport played on horseback, where two teams of four players use a mallet to hit the ball, with the objective of getting it through the goal. Each player has equipment for both gameplay purposes and safety.
To play the game of polo, the necessary equipment is a helmet, knee guards, boots, a saddle, and a mallet. One ball is required to play a match of polo. Each player rides a horse. However, horses are exchanged at the end of every period or chukka. Polo is a very fun and exciting game. However, it is quite dangerous, and the right equipment is needed to ensure safety for everyone involved.
There is one ball used in every game of polo. The ball is typically made out of plastic, however it is sometimes wooden. It is roughly 3 inches across and weighs 4 ounces. In polo, players attempt to hit the ball through the goal posts with their mallets. The ball is one of the pieces of equipment that is essential to playing the sport. The balls themselves are not very costly and can be purchased for about three dollars.
When playing polo, riders typically wear belts. However, belts are not included in the official uniform. It is a good idea though to wear one to look professional as well as keep your pants up when riding. Any belt should suffice as long as it is dark colored to match the boots.
Boot cream is a piece of equipment that isn't essential to the gameplay of the sport. It is an add-on that is used to maintain the rider's boots. The cream is applied to the boots through rubbing and helps protect the boots from wear and tear as well as polish the appearance. Boot cream is cheap and can be found for less than $5 on any polo apparel website.
Because polo takes place on horses, a certain footwear is required. Riders must wear boots during play. Another requirement is that the boots must be brown colored. A major reason for this is the sport aims to maintain a certain image. It is up to the player to decide the brand of boot however, as they can choose whichever fits them best. Due to the many different brands of boots out there, prices may vary. However, you can find an acceptable pair for around $100 dollars. Professionals can use boots that cost upwards of $1,000.
A breastplate is made out of leather and is put on the horse itself. It connects to the saddle and wraps around to the chest of the horse. The purpose it serves is to make sure the saddle does not move back or slide around. The cost of one of these breastplates is about $70.
Bridles are another piece of equipment used for the horse riding aspect of polo. They are made out of leather and are put around the horse's face. It is what leads the horse and it is attached to the reins. Part of the bridle, the bit, goes inside the horse's mouth and the rest is put over the head. Bridles are relatively expensive and can go for about $300 or more depending on quality.
Browbands are another piece of equipment that can add to the sport of polo. Browbands are attached to horses as an additional piece of equipment. Like the name suggests, it is a band that goes on the "brow" or forehead of the horse and it keeps sweat and hair out of the horse's eyes. If you're looking to play polo, a browband isn't necessary, but you can get one for around $30.
In polo, riders often cover their pants with chaps. There are two types of chaps, full and half chaps. Half chaps go up to the rider's knees while full chaps cover the entirety of the rider's legs. Half chaps are the more common of the two, due to their comfort and flexibility they provide.
A field is where the game of polo is played. Polo fields are measured in yards and their dimensions are 300 yards by 160 yards. The field is surrounded by what is known by a safety zone, to give a buffer in between the action and spectators. The field also has markings such as a center line, and two 60, 40, and 30 yard lines. The lines are used for penalty shots.
When playing polo all the riders wear gloves. This is to protect their hands from potential harm from mallets as well as give grip over their own mallet. The most common color worn is white gloves to fit the aesthetic of the outfit, however sometimes riders add other colors for style. You can purchase gloves for about $50 to $100 on any polo equipment sites.
There are four goal posts on a polo field, two on each side of the field. They are spaced 8 yards apart from one another to form the goal in which players score in. The height of the posts is also important as all goals must be under the tops of the posts, about 10 feet high. Typically one doesn't purchase goal posts unless they are an official polo league. They can be replaced with trees/sticks/cones or whatever you have with you. However, if you are interested in buying goal posts, they cost about $700 to $1000 and must be purchased from the manufacturer.
Riding horses can be dangerous, and the riders must ensure their safety. One way they do this is by wearing a helmet to protect their heads. It is also to protect from mallets and balls that may go astray and near the head of the riders. Clear face guards can also sometimes be attached to the helmet to protect the face. A strap connects from the helmet to ensure it does not fall off.
One of the most important pieces of equipment in polo is the horses themselves. Players each ride a horse throughout the game. Players bring their own horses to the event, and may bring more than one if they are concerned of fatigue. Horses are bred specifically for the sport, usually thoroughbred.
During the sport players wear jerseys to distinguish one another. Most of the time teams have a jersey that each of their players will wear. This is the same as other sports and each team wears the same jersey. Sometimes in polo the jersey will be as simple as a polo shirt that is the same color. Other times it is a lightweight fabric with a team logo on it.
Knee guards are another way that riders protect themselves during this sport. The knees are in range of most mallets, and are commonly struck during play. The padding is in most cases made of leather, and typically matches the coloring of the boots and pants. You can buy knee pads on any polo or horse riding store, and they typically go for about $200.
Before and after matches the horses must be guided on and off of the field. The way that this is accomplished is with the usage of lead ropes. Lead ropes are ropes that are clipped to the horse so that they can be pulled and guided where they need to go. Lead ropes are typically made out of cotton and cost about 5 to 10 dollars.There are several different types of lead ropes, varying by length.
Just like any other sport players have bags to carry their equipment. In polo that equipment is their mallets. Bags typically have the capacity to carry multiple mallets, usually about 20-30. You will have to go to a polo store to buy a bag if you are interested, however it must be noted that they are on the pricey side of things, costing around $200.
Every player has a mallet in the sport. Players use said mallet to strike the ball, passing the ball around, and trying to hit it through the goal. Mallets are constructed out of bamboo or plastic. They have a long handle, with a head attached at the bottom. They are long in order to reach the ground while riding the horse, but vary in size depending on the height of the horse. Mallets have a wide range in price depending on quality, but a good one will cost about $100.
The noseband is placed on the horse and it is a part of the bridle. It is the bit of leather that goes around the horse's nose and jaw closest to the tip of the horse's nose. There are different styles of nosebands out on the market. The most common is the French cavesson which is made out of leather and is 1 inch below the cheekbone. The other styles are used to correct certain tendencies a horse may have, such as opening its mouth when it is running.
In horse riding the pants that the riders wear are referred to as breeches. The one distinction about breeches is that they must be colored white. The pants allow for full flexibility from the rider as well as comfort while riding on the horse. There are many different brands that produce the pants and it is up to you to choose which one you want to go with. In polo specifically they are referred to as polo jeans and the usual price range for pants is about 200-300 dollars.
In order to ride the horse a saddle must be placed on the horse's back. A saddle is like a seat for the rider and is strapped on to the horse. Saddles are typically made out of leather and are pretty heavy. Saddles can weigh anywhere between 25 and 60 pounds. Saddles are also very expensive as they are personalized for the horse. A saddle goes for around $700 and can be bought online, but it is a better idea to get it in person.
Saddles on their own can be uncomfortable and riding for a long period of time can lead to chafing and bruises. One way that riders counter this is through the usage of saddle pads. They are placed on the saddle to help the comfort and pad the riders bottom. Another type of saddle pad is a saddle blanket, which goes under the saddle to make it more comfortable for the horse. Saddle pads are not that expensive and you can find one online for around 20 dollars.
Polo shirts are rather famous in both polo and society as a whole. They are collared with two buttons at the top. As mentioned during the jersey section, polo shirts are sometimes worn during play. They fit the aesthetic that the sport of polo is going for, a respectable and presentable look. They come in different colors and some can even be multiple colors. You can purchase a polo shirt for pretty cheap at any clothing store, usually around 20 dollars, prices may vary.
Spurs are another piece of equipment which assists the horse riding aspect of the sport. Spurs are attached to the heel of the boot of the rider. Spurs are made out of metal and have a sharp circular ring. The purpose of spurs is to dig into the horse's side to encourage it to run faster or stop depending on how you train it. Spurs can cost as low as $20 but a quality pair can cost up to $50 or $100. However, it must be noted that spurs are very rarely used in polo and are considered unethical by many.
Sunglasses are an extra luxury piece of equipment in the sport. They are very practical when playing polo on a sunny day. The sun can make seeing the ball and teammates much more difficult. Sunglasses will block it out and allow for better sight. Any standard pair of sunglasses works so the price will vary depending on the quality you want them to be.
Whips, or crops, are a more controversial form of equipment used in the sport of polo. The whip is used to motivate the horse into riding faster. However whips aren't used in most polo matches as the rider has to hold on to a mallet while riding, not leaving much room to hold another tool. The whips used are the same as what is used in horse racing and resembles a large fly swatter.
Polo is a unique sport. Some say that it is a mix between hockey and soccer, but horseback. A similar mallet is used in cricket, but a polo mallet is much longer, and you strike the ball with a different part of the mallet than in cricket. In polo, you hit the ball with the side of the mallet.
While all pieces listed are required for a regulated game of polo, a mallet and a horse are the only things you really need to practice or just have fun playing polo. However, if you want to get involved in a serious league or join a team, almost all the equipment is necessary. To play polo, you will need to purchase your own equipment. This includes mallets, helmets, boots, and knee guards. There is also equipment that will be given to you as part of the team, including jerseys, pants, saddles, and of course, horses.
Polo used to be known as a sport for royalty, however nowadays it is becoming more and more accessible for those that want to try the sport out for themselves. Arena polo, a version of the game that has three players on each team, is much cheaper than the classic version of polo.