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Polo - How the game is played

A polo match lasts about one and one-half hours and

is divided into six 7 minute periods or chukkers. Since

a horse in fast polo can cover two and one-half to

three miles per period, he'll be too tired to play a

second one right away. After resting for two or three

periods, some horses can return to the game. Still, in

championship polo, a player will come to the field with

at least six horses. The mounts are horses, mostly

thoroughbreds, not ponies. The object of the game is to

score as many goals as possible. There are four players

on a team and each assumes a specific position either

offensive or defensive. However, given the enormous

size of the playing fields, the momentum of the

galloping horses and the ball's unexpected changes of

direction, the game is very fluid, and the positions

continuously change. There are few set plays in polo,

and good anticipation is almost a sixth sense. With

thousand pound animals running at speed there is a

pre-eminent necessity for a right of way rule. The

central concept in the rules of polo is the line of the

ball, a right-of-way established by the path of the

traveling ball. Like the rules of the road, there are

do's and don'ts governing access to this right-of-way

and crossing it. Within these limitations, a player can

hook an opponent's mallet, push him off the line, bump

him with his horse or steal the ball from him.

Penalties are awarded as free hits. The more severe,

the shorter the distance to the goal. The closer hits

are almost certain goals. After every goal is scored,

the teams change sides in order to compensate for field

and wind conditions. A typical score would be 10-7.

Polo games are played on the flat or the handicap.

Every registered player is awarded a skill rating from

C (-2, the lowest) to 10 (the highest). When a match is

played on the hand...

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