HOCKEY ON HORSE
RIDE OF YOUR LIFE
Polo is like playing hockey and chess on a horse traveling at 50 km/h. The speed, the sound of galopping hooves, the adrenaline of the chase and the team spirit between human and horse is part of the thrill.
Polo is the fastest team games around, and one of very few equestrian sports where the team are on the field at the same time, as an actual team.
The aim is to score more goals that your opponents. You strike the ball towards the goal using forehand shots on your offside (your right side) or your nearside (left side) as opponents try to block your shots or ride you of your path. In defensive play you 'take your man', that is ride close enough to hook your opponent as he tries to take a shot, ride him of this line shoulder to shoulder and block other opponents from interfering with your team members or gaining a good position. In defensive play two more shots are used, the offside backhand and the nearside backhand as you hit the ball backwards at an angle.
The outdoor field is huge, it is ten times the size of a football pitch, allowing your horse to get to top gear. The speed can reach roughly 50 km/h.
Polo is a material sport and equipment can be hard to find here in Scandinavia. Luckily there are quite a few online shops that provides all you need.
The horse is the first and most important piece of gear. A polo horse can be of any breed or size. They are trained not to get spooked by sticks swinging around their head, double reins held in your left hand tells the horse where and when to turn, simply lay the reins over the horse neck and he will respond. Also, super calm in the stables, polo horses also have adrenaline pumping in their veins during gameplay. They respond swiftly to any changes in body balance and tensions. And they do not hesitate to push other horses as you ride side by side with an opponent.
Secondly you need a ball and a stick, also referred to as a mallet. Indoor balls av inflatable where as outdoor balls are smaller, harder and made from plastic.
Safety is an important part of the game. That is why there are a lot of rules in polo. And a lot of safety gear, tougher boots, knee pads, sometimes elbow pads, more or less high tech gloves and so forth.
Thought of as an elite sport, yes, polo is expensive if you are in for the win. But so are all other equestrian sports. One thing is certain, the thrill of polo is something quite unique. And so are the atmosphere surrounding the game. Polo is a team game and you play, win or loose as a team. At the end of the day, all players have shared a magical moment and often celebrate the experience over a common barbecue and a bottle of wine.