What is Horse Polo?


Polo is a team sport played by competitors on horseback. The goal of polo is to try and score on the opponent's goal. Players use long mallets to hit the ball between teammates and to shoot the ball. 4 players are on each team. Polo is one of the oldest known sports and is currently most popular in Argentina, USA, and Britain.


polo history

No one knows when polo was truly first played. The earliest known games of polo come from Central Asia some time before 600 B.C, mounted nomads used the game for sport and combat training. Eventually the game spread to Persia and became a national sport. From Persia the game spread throughout the rest of Asia. Modern polo was first played in India; from there the game spread to Europe and eventually the USA and North America. The types of mallets used, horses ridden, and other factors have all evolved as the game has continued to age. Polo is now played internationally and available at many different levels.

Playing Surface

Polo Field

Polo is played on a large grass field. It is important that the field is kept in good condition and games are not usually played when weather is a factor. The field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. At the end of playable territory is a goal on each end. Behind the goal there is 30 yards of grass that no players are allowed to go into. Around the entire exterior of the field is a small border (maximum of 27 cm). This border keeps the ball in the field of play.


Polo Equipment

The main piece of equipment for polo is a horse. Polo players do not just use any horses; there are specific horses that are bred for polo. Besides horses, players also need mallets, knee guards, a ball, a helmet, and gloves.


Polo is a fast paced game that involves constant back and forth action. Players remain on their horses for the entire game. The game starts at center field when the referee drops the ball. Players from both teams then use their mallets to try and get control of the ball. From this point, teams do whatever they can to score goals on their opponents. It is more common for players to take the ball on breakaways in order to score rather than passing. After each goal, teams switch sides. The game is divided into chukkas. The amount of chukkas can depend, but it is usually four or six, separated by a halftime.

Positions and Roles

Each team has 4 players on the field at a time and each player has unique responsibilities. These 4 positions are the number one, number two, number three, and number four. The number one player is the main scorer on a team. This player is mainly positioned on the attacking side of the field and is responsible for covering the opposing team's defenders. The number two plays forward too, but is not as focused on scoring. The number two needs the fastest horse as they need to be able to hunt the ball down. The number three is usually the most well rounded player on the team. They connect the defense and offense. Their main objective is to turn any ball into an offensive attack. The number four is the defensive leader of the team, trying to keep the ball off of their side of the field.

Rules and Regulations

Polo Rules and Regulations

Polo is a complicated game when it comes to rules, but through watching or playing the game it will be much easier to understand. One of the main concepts in polo is the "Line of Ball". When a player hits the ball, there is an imaginary line created that follows directly behind the ball. The player who hit this ball has the right of way along this line and if someone cuts him off there will be a penalty. Two other tactics often causing penalties are "ride-offs" and "hooking." Players attempt ride-offs with opponents to try and fight for the ball while chasing it. Players can be called for an uneven or illegal ride-off. Common penalties are dangerous driving, reaching, unsafe use of mallet, and delay of game.

Referees and Officials

Polo Referees and Officials

There are two referees during each game, both on horses. One referee is on the field officiating and one judges from the sidelines. The officials are responsible for keeping the game safe for the players and horses.

Lingo and Terminology

polo lingo and terminology

Here is some popular terminology from the game of polo:

  • ROW: Right of Way.
  • Take a Man: In polo, if not fighting for the ball, you should always be guarding someone.
  • Chukka: Period of play.
  • Mallet: Stick used to hit the ball.
  • Nearside: Hitting the ball from the left side of the horse.
  • Offside: Hitting the ball from the right side of the horse.

Skills and Techniques

To be successful in Polo it is definitely important to be confident in horse riding. The horse is just as important as the person on its back, so the first skill is being able to direct the horse. Other important skills in polo include the ability to understand the game, position well, and hit the ball accurately.


In polo, players get new horses during each chukka. This allows horses to stay fresh, and play to stay active and competitive. Players should understand their specific positions and need the appropriate skill set for the team to best perform.

Polo Brands

It is important to have the appropriate protections and equipment when playing Polo. Brands tend to specialize in what they make. It is important to find loyal and trustworthy brands.

AinsleyLeg Protection
The HuskHorse Protection

Polo Youth Organizations

Many Polo players start and develop their love of the game from a young age. It is played internationally at a youth level. Many countries have their own organizations and teams. A popular option for youth polo players to improve their skills is camps, and the National Youth Tournament Series Championship (NYTS) is the best way for young Americans to have access to the sport.

Polo Players

Nacho FiguerasArgentina
Pablo Mac DonoughArgentina
Adolfo CambiasoArgentina
Carlos GracidaMexico
Pablo PieresUnited States
Facundo PieresArgentina

Polo Leagues & Tournaments

Polo is consistently played around the world. There are many leagues and tournaments occurring throughout the year.


World Polo LeagueInternational
All Pro Polo League International


President's CupUSPA
Gold CupUSPA
US Open Polo ChampionshipUSPA
FIP WOrld Polo ChampionshipFIP

Polo Teams

The top Polo teams in the world are privately owned and funded. However, there are also national teams that have been very successful.

King Power FoxesPrivate
Polo Club DubaiPrivate
Apes Hill El RemansoPrivate

Polo Books

Polo Books

Polo books often are autobiographies, biographies, informational, or nonfiction. Each of these styles brings a unique perspective to the game for readers.

Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and ZenAdam Snow and Shelley Onderdonk
The Complete Guide to PoloLauren Dibble
Polo in IndiaJaisal Singh

Polo Websites

Polo Websites

Almost every Polo club, league, or tournament has their own website. Polo is getting increasingly easy to access. Social media is also making it very easy for Polo players to get and stay connected. Some of the best sites include:


What is Polo?

Polo is a sport in which competitors ride horses and use mallets to hit the ball into the opponents goal. Polo is a fast paced and entertaining game to play or watch. Four players are on each team at a time. They each have unique positions and responsibilities. The game is divided into chukkas, periods, and horses are switched out in between chukkas. Polo is one of the oldest sports in the world and its' true origins are unknown.

Polo is played around the world. There are highly respected tournaments in numerous countries. Polo is most popular in Argentina, USA, United Kingdom, and Brazil. Argentina has been the most accomplished at the international level.

Is polo an expensive sport?

A stereotype of polo is that it is a sport only for rich people. However, this is not entirely accurate. To fund and support a successful national or international competing team can be extremely expensive. It is similar to owning a basketball or baseball team. Playing for fun and locally is not too expensive. The main costs will come from a club membership and paying to participate in games. The equipment is not too expensive.