gear up for action
Things you need or need to know in the ultimate material sport
BANDAGES Ponies wear bandages or other protection on all four legs during matches. This is to protect them from injury if they are accidentally hit with balls or sticks.
BIT Gag (big round) or Pelhams are most common in polo matches. Strong bits are needed to provide control even with soft touches in the racing environment.
BOOTS Brown boots are mandatory during matches. They are made from durable leather, often 3 layers, and has a front zipper.
BRIDLE Heavy duty bridle suited for equestrian action, unlike most other disciplines where the leather is thin and polished. In polo it is important not to obstruct the pony's vision
ELBOW PADS Preferred by some riders to protect elbows from being injured when accidentally hit by other players sticks.
GIRTH Connects to the saddle and holds it in place. The girth also holds the breast plate and the martingale. In polo an extra girth called over girth is used to further stabilize the saddle and to act as a back-up in case the girth breaks.
GLOVES Thin gloves provides a better stick grip and keep the hands warm during the chill winter season. Many players only use a glove on their right hand (stick hand) whilst the left hand (reins) is uncovered for precision. Some gloves come with carbon protection over the knuckles.
HELMET The safety helmet is a must for all polo riders. As long as it hold all the current approvals it may be of any brand, any color and any decorations - most common are initials or country flags.
HORSE Being 80-90 percent of the success in polo, the horse is truely the hero of the game. In polo horses of any size and breed can participate, however most common are pure Thoroughbreds or Thorough crossed with Quarter horse or Criollo, and 15-16 hands, appr. 152-162 cm. The horse must be explosive, fearless and fast.
KNEEPADS As polo is a contact sport the kneepads prevents injury during ride-offs.
MARTINGALE The standing martingale prevents the ponies from throwing their heads back and hitting the players as they lean forward to take a shot or to block the shot of an opponent.
REINS Double reins are used for extra control and traction to the bit. Sometimes running reins are used where one end is connected to the girth for extra stopping power.
SADDLE In polo the saddle differs as it doesn't have knee rolls and the pommel is lower to allow the rider to position themselves forward on the horse.
SHIRT Long or short sleeves, the polo- or piquet-shirt is a stylish, flexible and durable team sweater. It is numbered to ease the overview of the game for both riders and spectators. Actually, the 'button-down' shirt introduced by Brooks Brothers were influenced by polo-players who fastened their collar tabs to prevent them from flying in their faces while riding.
STICK/MALLET Traditionally the cane is made from bamboo but for consistency modern fiber canes are on the rise. The shaft is 50-54 inches long and the lengths depend on the height of the horse with 52 inches being the most common. The head is most often made from Argentine Tipa wood which is tough enough to sustain the impact from the ball.
STIRRUPS Similar to other equestrian sports but slightly wider and heavier as players need a stable platform as players stand in half seat in the stirrups and place weight to take the shots.
TAILS Pony tails are plaited and taped to prevent the tail to get tangled in the stick.
WHIP A whip, if used, is held in the left hand together with the reins.
WHITES Polo matches are played in crisp white denim or breeches. As the sport originates from Asia where it is very hot players preferred light colors. From then, it is all tradition.