Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I start?
  2. What must I need to play?
  3. How long does a match last?
  4. What type of horses do they use for polo?
  5. I'm 50, am I too old to start?
  6. What makes a good Polo Player?
  7. How many lessons should I take before I start to play?
  8. Will I have to join a club to play?
  9. How much will it cost?
  10. Is it okay to bring family and friends to the polo club?
  11. I'm busy with work, will have have devote all my time to polo?
  12. I want to buy my first pony, what should I get?
  13. I'm left handed, can I play with my left hand?
  14. Polo Simplified:

2. What do I need to play?

The player has to wear the standard safety attire during matches.

  1. Polo riding hat
  2. Knee pads (to protect you knees during close contact)
  3. Polo shirt
  4. Brown Riding boots
  5. White Trousers

Normal riding gear is sufficient during lessons and practice.

3. How long does a match last?

A polo match is either 4 or 6 or 8 chukka depending on the match, players and horses available. In a match you have either 2 or 3 players in a team and 1 or 2 umpires .

A chukka is 7 minutes, the interval between chukkas is 3 minutes.

A fit horse should never play 2 chukkas in sequence and never play more than 2 chukkas on the same day.

4. What type of horses do they use for polo?

typicalpolopony
A typical polo pony

Polo ponies are generally thoroughbreds or thoroughbreds crossed with a warm blood (i.e Connemara), so you keep the speed but have a quiet head too . Their height is usually between 15 and 15.3 hands. The smaller the polo pony the more agile they are, so you can whiz in and out of the other players, but they may not keep up with the longer legged ponies, so generally in higher goal polo the ponies are slightly taller. For economical reasons most of the polo ponies in the past came from the Argentine but now Irish horses are trained to play Polo and their speed and strong bone makes them some of the best Polo ponies in the world . The training can take up to three years, but is well worth it as the Irish thoroughbred is most suitable for the game, they not only have the speed but they are often very level-headed too.

5. I'm 50, am I too old to start?

Age is no barrier.. The earlier you start the better you will become. We have 17 year old players. We have people who started well in their 50's and still play with 80 years old. I heard a wise man once tell me "the right age to start polo is after you are forty, when your legs start to get tired you can swap them for the 4 legs of your horse and let them do the running". Because of the handicap system any player is important and has the same chance and for sure the same enjoyment of Polo.

6. What makes a good Polo Player?

You have to love horses. There is no horse sport, where you feel so much part of the horse, the horse is an extension of you or visa versa, so you have a very close relationship to your horse. The horse knows that too.

You to be competitive and always want to win ...

You need to be a good team person as the game is very much a team play and you depend on your fellow players and they very much depend on you. A game is always won by the better team on the day not the best individual players.

It helps if you are already a good rider or if you have done some competitive ball sports. But both you can learn. You will automatically become a good rider if you concentrate on the game and the ball, as you will learn how to naturally balance.

7. How many lessons should I take before I start to play?

Generally 3 to 4 lessons is enough to learn the basics as you learn just as much by playing. Once you start to play, practice makes perfect. It's also advisable to get a lesson or two throughout the year to get rid of any bad habits you may pick up. " Once you have played your first chukka, there are few people who give up Polo unless you become broke, divorced or even both."

8. Will I have to join a club to play?

Yes. Once you have been accepted as a member, the club will look after your Polo. You tell them when you are available and for how many chukkas. A chukka is a 7.5 minute play period, a game usually has 4 periods and you can play with one horse at the most 2 chukka with an interval.

The club manager will insure that you get into the teams and keeps you informed of all the club activities. You will find the other members very friendly and helpful. In general the Polo fellowship is one of the greatest assets in the game as the Polo community is relatively small and the game is very much a team sport where everybody depends on his team mates and all good players appreciate this..

9. How much will it cost?

Polo costs as much as you want to spend. It does not have to be the most expensive sport but you should be aware that to play Polo you will need 2 horses if you want to play the 4 chukka matches. Your first horse would cost you between €4000 and €12,000, although you can get cheaper horses you generally end up swapping them out 2 years later costing you more money. I have played for years with 2 ponies only and so have most of the members. But of course there is no limit to how serious you want to involve yourself.

You may be able to lease some horses for your first season, if you join a club like Polo Wicklow, but on the end of the day you have to have your own horses, to enjoy the game. This lease or hire facility is not available everywhere but some clubs have this facility.

Yes, you can start with one horse but this allows you only to play 2 chukka and you soon will look for your second horse. So you should budget for a second horse.

10. Is it okay to bring family and friends to the polo club?

Polo is a very much family sport, the clubs are organized for you to bring your family and friends along, they usually are the base of your supporter group and in general get very involved in the social activities of the club.

11. I'm busy with work, will I have have devote all my time to polo?

If your horses are kept at a Polo yard, in livery, your time involvement is in your control. All you have to do is, arrive at the Polo Club .. climb on your horse and off you go.. enjoy your polo. After polo have a shower in the club and go back to work if that is what you want. Or stay on and share your experiences with the fellow players . The game keeps your body and mind fit. Obviously if you want to be a top player it's recommended to practice at least once or twice a week.

12. I want to buy my first pony, what should I get?

I would always recommend a beginner to buy experienced horses, at least 9 years old, to start the game. There is no point in buying a young horse and trying to teach it to play when you are only learning yourself, then fighting with it because it picked up your bad habits and later putting you off polo all together. You need all the help you can get when you are learning. Many horses play well into their 20's. These horses will teach you the game and from the beginning on you will enjoy your Polo.

They say 80% of the game is your horse! Keep that in mind. Polo is the most safe horse sport if you have a good Polo pony. There are plenty of horses out there so don't rush into buying because everyone else has. Buy a horse that is good for your standard now, not one that will be in 3 years, you will get a fright and it will put you off the game.

13. I'm left handed, can I play with my left hand? Polo Simplified:

No, it's a written rule that you must hold your stick in your right hand. This does not mean you cannot play but it does mean it's more difficult. There are 3 or 4 top professionals playing today that are left handed so it is possible. There are many exercised you can do to help you build up strength in left arm.

14. Polo Simplified:

Like in Football you have a goal on each end of the Polo field and the aim is to score as many goals with your team as possible.

There are not many rules. The main one is the line of the running ball which means that the person closest to the line of the ball has the right of way and you are not allowed to cross that line from the person who is the closest angel to the line. Similar to driving a car on the main road, 'the line of the ball' is the main road, the other cars can not cross it unless the road is clear.

The player can do the following: the obvious .... hit the ball . Hinder another player to hit the ball by riding him off the line of the ball.. Or by hitting the stick of the other player striking the ball and thereby preventing him/her to hit the ball.

From this you see that even a person with no initial ball experience can be very constructive in the game.

Polo can be played on Grass (but this you can do only in the summer months) or in the indoor/outdoor Polo Arena. In Arena Polo you have the advantage that it is played in any weather conditions and never cancelled. Arena Polo is also a faster playing game as the boards are used to keep the ball in the game like in a snooker match, this is where you catch out the ones who like to just run with the ball and see the ones who have skill and quick thinking. You can play Arena Polo 2 or 3 aside. Grass Polo is a bigger playing field and usually played with 4 players on a team.

P.S. Polo Wicklow provides the only all year round, All Weather Polo and has some of the fastest and best Irish Polo Ponies available.

 
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