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Rules to play Equestrianism
1. A Polo Game
The object of the game is to move the polo ball down field, hitting the ball through the goal posts for a score. Polo teams then change direction after each goal in order to compensate for field and wind conditions. A team is made up of four polo players.
A polo match is usually played outdoors. A polo field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide, the largest field in organized sport.
A polo match lasts about one and one half hours and is divided into timed periods called chukkers. Each chukker is seven minutes long.
Play begins with a throw in of the ball by the umpire at the opening of each chukker and after each goal.
Players must change horses after each chukker due to the extreme demands placed on the polo pony.
During half time, spectators go onto the field to participate in a tradition called divot stomping to help replace the divots created by the horses hooves.
Polo players are ranked yearly by their peers and the USPA on a scale of 2 to 10 goals. Team play is handicapped on the basis of ability.
Most of the rules of polo are for the safety of the polo players and their ponies. The basic concept is the line of the ball, a right of way established by the path of a traveling ball.
Two mounted Umpires do most of the officiating, with a Referee at midfield having the final say in any dispute between the umpires.
A player may hook or block another players mallet with his mallet, but no deliberate contact between players is allowed. A player may not purposely touch another player, his tack or pony with his mallet.
The mallet may only be held in the right hand. Left handed players are often thought to hit with less accuracy, but guide their ponies better than their right handed peers.Ponies play for a maximum of two chukkers per match.
4. Polo ponies
The mounts used are called polo ponies, although the term pony is purely traditional and the mount is actually a full sized horse. They range from 14.2 to 16 hands 58 to 64 inches, 147 to 163 cm high at the withers, and weigh 9001,100 pounds 410500 kg. The polo pony is selected carefully for quick bursts of speed, stamina, agility and manoeuvrability. Temperament is critical; the horse must remain responsive under pressure and not become excited or difficult to control. Many are Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred crosses. They are trained to be handled with one hand on the reins, and to respond to the riders leg and weight cues for moving forward, turning and stopping. A well trained horse will carry its rider smoothly and swiftly to the ball and can account for 60 to 75 percent of the players skill and net worth to his team.
Polo pony training generally begins at age three and lasts from about six months to two years. Most horses reach full physical maturity at about age five, and ponies are at their peak of athleticism and training at around age 6 or 7. However, without any accidents, polo ponies may have the ability to play until they are 18 to 20 years of age.Each player must have more than one pony, so tired mounts can be exchanged for fresh mounts between or even during chukkas. A players string of polo ponies may number 2 or 3 in Low Goal matches with ponies being rested for at least a chukka before reuse, 4 or more for Medium Goal matches at least one per chukka, and even more for the highest levels of competition.
Each team consists of four mounted players, which can be mixed teams of both men and women.Each position assigned to a player has certain responsibilities
Number One is the most offence oriented position on the field. The Number One position generally covers the opposing teams Number Four.
Number Two has an important role in offence, either running through and scoring themselves, or passing to the Number One and getting in behind them. Defensively, they will cover the opposing teams Number Three, generally the other teams best player. Given the difficulty of this position, it is not uncommon for the best player on the team to play Number Two so long as another strong player is available to play Three.
Number Three is the tactical leader and must be a long powerful hitter to feed balls to Number Two and Number One as well as maintaining a solid defence. The best player on the team is usually the Number Three player, usually wielding the highest handicap.
Number Four is the primary defence player. They can move anywhere on the field, but they usually try to prevent scoring. The emphasis on defence by the Number Four allows the Number Three to attempt more offensive plays, since they know that they will be covered if they lose the ball.
Polo must be played right handed.
6. The field
The playing field is 300 yards 274 metres long by 160 yards 146 metres wide, the approximate area of nine American football fields. The playing field is carefully maintained with closely mowed turf providing a safe, fast playing surface. Goals are posts which are set eight yards apart, centred at each end of the field. The surface of a polo field requires careful and constant grounds maintenance to keep the surface in good playing condition. During half time of a match, spectators are invited to go onto the field to participate in a polo tradition called divot stamping, which has developed to not only help replace the mounds of earth divots that are torn up by the horses hooves, but to afford spectators the opportunity to walk about and socialise.
7. Outdoor polo
The game consists of four to eight 7 minute chukkas, between or during which players change mounts. 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. 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 the ball back into play.
8. County polo
With most clubs in the UK, players need to become members, and invest in at least two ponies to be able to play standard club chukkas. It is usual to play four back to back chukkas using each pony for two chukkas alternately, so that they each play, then rest and then play again.
For many people, this requires a very large financial investment, which can be too costly for some. County Polo creates more affordable parameters for newcomers to the sport. Players are only required to use one pony, which may be hired, or owned. This form of polo is usually played with three players per side as opposed to the standard four player polo and therefore allows each player to get more involved and develop.
The County Polo chukkas are usually overseen by a qualified mounted Hurlingham Polo Association HPA instructor / umpire, who will coach and explain throughout the chukka.
With this format, including shorter chukkas, with breaks in between, the ponies are not getting over tired, so there is no need for such a large string. Players may well continue to play polo at this level for many years, or players with more ambition could benefit from the tuition if they move onto more competitive polo.
County Polo is best complemented with regular stick and ball sessions, and regular wooden horse practice.
County Polo has had a resurgence in recent years, although the original County Polo Association was formed in 1898* to look after the interests of the country clubs and to run the County Cup Tournaments, the three London polo clubs Hurlingham, Ranelagh and Roehampton and from all associations within the Empire where polo was being played.
9. Coaches and trainers
The competitors themselves play a highly critical role in promoting and safeguarding
fair play in their sport. For whatever the responsibilities or actions of others, in the
end it is the competitors who can most directly influence whether or not the play is
fair by understanding all the rules that govern their discipline, and by faithfully
observing them even when nobody is watching.
High profile competitors must recognise how influential their example can be for
others, and accept their responsibilities as role models. This applies to their actions
both on and off the horse, and in the warm up area as well as the competitive arena.
Coaches and trainers can also help to promote fair play by setting a good example
and by discouraging disrespect for the rules or acts of discourtesy by competitors
under their supervision. Older advisers clearly exert as important an influence by
their example as by their instruction.
10. Responsibilities of governing bodies
The governing bodies of equestrian sport not only formulate the rules, but also qualify
and license the officials, approve the dates and programs of the major competitions,
and often act as the final level of judicial authority. They must make every effort to
ensure that their rules are fair, based firmly on reality and applied accurately and
consistently by officials of demonstrated competence and impartiality. They must also
do everything they can to enhance and promote the quality of the disciplines and
their attractiveness for spectators and competitors alike through a proactive use of
their executive powers. Finally, they must recognise that neglect or disregard of the
ideals of fair play reflects both on the sport and on the organisations responsible for
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