Sotogrande Polo - The Game of Polo

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The Game of Polo

by Saskia Mier

Each polo team consists of four riders and their mounts. The modern game lasts roughly two hours and is divided into periods called chukkas, of which there are four to eight, 7 minute chukkas. At the end of each 7 minute chukka, play continues for an additional 30 seconds or until a stoppage in play, whichever comes first. There is a four-minute interval between chukkas and a ten-minute halftime. During the intervals, each player dismounts and gets on a fresh horse. At the higher levels, the professionals are switching horses every 3-4 minutes, maybe more, to keep the fresh horse advantage. Play is continuous and is only stopped for penalties, broken tack (equipment) or injury to horse or player.

The object is to score goals by hitting the ball between the goal posts, no matter how high in the air. If the ball goes wide of the goal, the defending team is allowed a free 'knock-in' from the place where the ball crossed the goal line, thus getting ball back into play.

The traditional sport of field polo is played on a grass pitch up to 300x160 yards (270x150m). It is played with a solid plastic ball which has replaced the wooden version of the ball in much of the sport.

Arena polo is played within a regulation arena with solid walls or fencing (not rails), typically 100x50 yards (91x45m). Only three players are required per team and the game usually involves more manoeuvring and shorter plays at lower speeds due to space limitations of arenas. A small air-filled ball, similar to a small football is used to score. 


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