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All About Polo:
Polo - The Game
The Polo Club
Field, Ponies And Equipment
Rules For Polo - Part 1
Rules For Polo - Part 2
Horsemanship - Part 1
Horsemanship - Part 2

Polo - The Game

( Originally Published Late 1920 )



Polo is a most difficult game to learn. There are three cardinal things, each of which must be so learned as to be nearly habitual before the player can hope for excellence. The first of these is horsemanship; the second, hitting; the third, the strategy of team play. There are many variables that come into the game: there is the personal equation of the men; and there are the characteristics of the different sorts of horses belonging to the different players, each horse having its direct effect upon the play. The attention of the player must sometimes be directed to his horse, sometimes to his individual play, and sometimes to the team work. He should strive to make a reasonable excellence in all three of these so nearly habitual as to be able to direct his attention upon one which is presenting unusual difficulties without letting the others go entirely by the board.

Where ten or eleven men are banded together to play polo on certain afternoons of the week it is necessary for everyone to be present in order to make up a game. Polo enthusiasts should refuse to allow their business or pleasure to interfere with polo afternoons. They should make these sacred to polo. It is, not fair to the other players who are maintaining ponies and expecting a game to have them lose their day of sport because one of the number happens to want to do something else for the afternoon.

The saddling and getting ready the horses, the fixed day, the fact that polo is in the neighborhood, and that people will drive for long distances to see the practice in the afternoon make polo practice such an event as is the practice of no other game. The assurance of regularity in taking exercise is very advantageous to busy men whose work may be so absorbing and the demands on whose time may be so exacting as to cause them continually to neglect to fulfill engagements for other games more easily put off, as golf, tennis, or other sports, where it is more easy to fill up numbers in case of delinquencies. For a busy man, directing large enterprises, I recommend polo as the surest way of keeping in trim.

It is true that polo is a dangerous game. It is, however, much more dangerous for beginners than for experts, and I see no necessity for players doing reckless riding, nor is there any possible excuse for foul riding. The first care of every player should be to make the game absolutely safe by avoiding committing fouls, which are usually, per se, dangerous riding.

After watching a number of inexperienced men trying to play polo, I prepared a number of suggestions-or one might almost say axioms-for polo, which I wish that every beginner could be compelled to commit to memory before he took his place on the polo field.

These are as follows:

It is bad polo----

1. To take the ball round the field except when saving goal.

2. To knock out or over.

3. To hit long strokes toward the sides in the offensive half of the field or hit into the offensive corners.

4. To try for goal from too great a distance or from too sharp an angle. Play approach shots.

5. For two of one side to ride for the ball at the same time. This is an inexcusable blunder.

6. For two of one side to ride out the same opponent.

7. For two of one side to gallop parallel to ,each other. Either one or both are inexcusably out of place.

8. For any player to keep his pony galloping parallel to the ball.

9. To support your own man from too close.

10. To let your corresponding opponent, when in position, ride clear.

11. To carry your stick anywhere but in the perpendicular.

12. To back the ball into a rush of oncoming ponies.

13. To hit the ball across when a back shot will do.

14. To call "Go on" when you mean "Leave it."

15. To ride across the line of play too close to oncoming opponents.

16. To knock in directly in front of goal.

17. To play for your opponent's misses.

18. To leave an opponent whom you have covered to get to the ball when it was last hit by one of your side who is clear behind you.

19. To hit to an opponent who is clear.

20. To play in circles. -Play up and down.

21. To try to do the work for another player of your side who is in position; in the belief that you can do it better.

It is good polo

1. To turn your horse to the new direction before reaching the ball if it is going slow or standing still, and if you have time.

2. To call "Turn" or some equivalent if you back the ball or miss it. and it changes direction. 3. To call "Go on" if you take the ball along.

4. To hustle your corresponding opponent even if you can't reach him.

5. To reach out and try to crook your opponent's mallet when lie is hitting, even if it looks as though you couldn't reach it.

6. When on the right of way and headed to goal, to put on the greatest possible speed at the earliest possible moment.

7. To know where your corresponding opponent is all the time, and play so as to cover him.

8. To hit short strokes and play for a second chance when there is an opponent in front who is clear.

9. To maneuver to place yourself on the mallet or right side of your corresponding opponent.

10. To say the same thing always in the same way in calling to your side.

11. To make the line of play straight up and down the field except when defending goal.

12. To use your voice constantly to tell your own side what is going on.

13. To look where you are sending the ball before hitting and avoid putting it within reach of an uncovered opponent.

14. Always to wear a helmet to protect the head and face from getting hit by mallet and ball.

15. Not to leave yonr position except when taking out an opponent.

16. To let the ball roll over your back line, if it will, when hit by an opponent.

17. To watch the eyes of your corresponding opponent and maneuver to cover or leave him when he is watching the ball.

It is bad horsemanship

1. To jerk your pony's mouth at the moment of hitting.

2. To stop the pony by turning him. Pull Win up and turn hirn afterwards, otherwise you ruin your play and his legs.

3. To hit the pony with the mallet.

4. To gallop when a chance comes to pull up and wait.

5. To use a sharper bit or more harness than a horse absolutely needs.

6. To hold yourself in the saddle with the reins.

7. To ride into the line of play at a dangerous angle.

8. To turn to get into the line of play from too close to a pony that is riding straight. The ponies may trip.

It is good horsemanship

1. To use the voice before the rein, and both sparingly.

2. To sit well back in the saddle and let the horse do the hustling.

3. To bring the horse up almost to a standstill before turning Win when the direction of the play is reversed.

4. To save your pony's head from being struck by opponent's stick by fending with your mallet.

5. To save your pony in every possible way. Don't gallop an unnecessary inch.

6. To stop your horse by the alternating system of pull and let go, never by steady pulling

Pertinent generalities:

1. An opponent's stroke spoiled is as good as a stroke made.

2. Match play is the best school for polo.

3. In case of doubt

N0. 1 should ride to his man.

No. 2 should ride for the ball.

No. 4 should ride for the goal lie is defending.

4. If you find yourself with nothing to do, maneuver to cover your corresponding opponent.

5. Anticipation of the movement of the play is the essence of success in polo.

6. Maneuver so as to keep the ball in Sight at the moment it is struck.

7. Begin the stroke at the perpendicular and complete the full circle with one even swing.

8. In every play know where the corresponding opponent is, and remember that if you are not together, either one or both of you are out of place. In case of doubt, assume it is yourself.

9. To find position, count the men ahead of you.

If there are two more opponents than of your side, ride hard to catch up with the further one.

If there is one more opponent, ride to him. If there are equal numbers, ride the man beside or behind.

If there are more of your side, pull up and let one or two opponents, as the case may be, pass you.

These rules do not apply if you are on the ball or if the others are far out of position.

10. Don't lean out of the saddle when anyone whose mallet rnay reach you is swinging at the hall in your neighborhood. The mallet usually swings up and down. If you sit straight the pony will protect you from below, the helmet from above.

11. Don't ride fast toward the side and go over the boards at speed; pull up if possible.

12. Use the mallet and arm to feud against the possible blow of an opponent's stick whipping in from the side.

13. Whether in position or not, the man nearest the hall must take it rather than let it go to the other side.

14. In first-rate polo the boll will up and down the field at a

be traveling maximum and around and across the field at a minimum.

15. Remember that opponents may easily be near enough to crook a forward stroke, when a back stroke can be Made without interference. The back stroke is the safest for defense.

16. Watch and make sure that you always strike the ball with the center of the mallet head.

17. The secret of hitting far is beginning the stroke soon enough on the forward strokes and late enough on the back strokes. Added distance will be given in all strokes by sharp use of the wrist.

18. The secret of team play is to cover your own position so thoroughly that any adversity will be the fault of the other man.

19. Good players will try to hit always to one of their own side, not to themselves.

20. In good teams no one cares who hits the goals.

21. Read the rules at least once a year.



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