Polo is played by two teams made up of four riders. A polo field measures 274 x 146 metres. A game is usually divided into 4 periods, which are called chukkas. Each chukka lasts 7 minutes and 30 seconds of pure time with breaks of from 3 to 5 minutes in between.
There are several penalty lineson a polo field at distances of 27, 39 and 54 metres. The initial throw-in takes place at centre field. Just like in football, for example, there are also side lines on a polo field as well as goals on the narrow sides of the field. These are made using two posts, 763 cm apart. Unlike football the goals do not have a horizontal crossbar. There are two flagmen at each goal who check to make sure that a goal was scored in accordance with the rules. The game is supervised by a main referee, who is helped by line umpires.
Each player has a handicap assigned, ranging from -2 to +10. The sum of the handicaps of the team members determines the team handicap. The difference of the team handicaps is the initial score of the game. If one team will be made up of absolute beginners and the second by professionals, the game could begin with a score of 48:0, thus the beginners will have a head start of 48 points.
Players are equipped with a mallet, gloves, a helmet and knee guards. Naturally a player also needs a horse, or rather a number of horses. The player usually plays with one for a maximum of two chukkas. The best horse is saved for the last part of the game, which is where it is usually decided.
The length of the mallet depends on the height of the horse and the player and ranges from 122 to 135 cm. Its head it cigar-shaped with a length of 25 cm. Players must hold their mallet in their right hand, which does make the game more difficult for those who are left-handed.
The size of the ball is 7.6 – 8.9 cm. It is made of plastic or willow root and can weigh anywhere from 99 to 128 grams.
The horse has to have bandages on its legs to protect them from unwanted hits by the mallet. They have a bandaged tail so that the mallet does not get caught up in it. You can find more in the “Horses for polo” section.