Polo is one of the oldest team sports in the world, dating back as far as the 6th Century BC, and is often referred to as 'the sport of kings'.
Each team consists of four mounted riders in the summer ('grass season'), or three in the winter ('arena season'), and the aim is to score goals by shooting a ball between two goalposts. The ball can be played on either side of the horse (the 'offside' or the 'nearside'), forwards or backwards, but all riders must hold the mallet in their right hand.
The rules of the game are based around safety of both horse and rider. One or two umpires are present on the field at all time, and blow a whistle to signal an infraction of the rules, or a 'foul', usually resulting in a penalty in the form of a free hit to the non-offending team.
The main rules of the game revolve around the 'line of the ball', an imaginary line created in the direction that the ball is struck. This line may not be crossed by a rider if another player is following it, or has the 'right of way'. This avoids any collisions between players, and thus creates a safe environment for the sport to be played in.
The two main methods of defence are known as 'hooking' and 'riding off'. The former involves placing your stick in the path of the opponent's mallet, in order to prevent them hitting the ball. 'Riding off' is the act of using your horse to push your opponent off the line of the ball - it's a lot safer and more fun than it may sound!
You have to own your own horses in order to play polo.
You by no means have to own a horse to play polo! Here at Oxford, we have a great ongoing partnership with Oxford Polo, an external company who provide horses for all of our lessons and fixtures at a very affordable rate.
You have to have ridden before in order to take up polo.
You can start playing polo with us even if you've never seen a horse before! We take riders of all abilities, from absolute beginners to past eventers or show jumpers all the way up to people who have been playing for years. Taster sessions are a great way to jump in, and we can guarantee that there'll be fixtures for you to regularly play in by the end of your time at Oxford!