A brief guide to the modern game of polo
Grass (field) polo is played with 4 players each side with time segmented into periods of play called chukkas. A chukka is timed at 7 ½ minutes. Matches have between 4 to 8 chukkas per match, depending on the level of polo. Polo players are handicapped from -2 to +10 and the level of play is determined by the total aggregate of the players’ handicaps. Polo has a clever set of rules, which have been devised almost entirely based on safety and are in most instances very logical (and similar to traffic rules).
From horseback you are to hit a small white ball with a wooden mallet. You only use your right hand, while the left hand holds the reins. The ball is to be shot between two goal posts at each end of the field. It is a team sport with tactics and right positioning as main ingredients – just think of elephant polo. Next, riding skills and speed are added.
A pony must be changed after each chukka, though a pony may play again after a one chukka break for a maximum of 2 chukkas per match / day. In Europe the summer season runs from early May to mid September – depending on climate and grass field conditions. Winter or arena polo is played from October to April. It is played on an all weather surface in a smaller sized area with walls and so features just 2 or 3 players per side playing with an inflatable ball.
Ref: “Polo for the 21st century” by Rege Ludwig