This past weekend, Em and I really classed it up. We went to our first ever polo match. Yes, with the horses and the mallets, and the fancy spectators. This was a part of a fundraising event to raise money for the Marines. Truth and transparency, it wasn’t actually the polo game that drew us to the event. We were most excited to go on a hot air balloon ride – also a part of the event to raise money. However, the weather didn’t cooperate and there were no balloon rides, due to the windy weather.
We really didn’t know much about polo – other than that it’s played on horses and you use mallets to try and hit a small ball through a goal – but the guy who was doing the announcing did a nice job of throwing out tidbits of information throughout the game, as he knew that many in attendance were not intimately familiar with the game. The match was divided in 4, seven minute “chukkas” with a short break between each (sounds like “chuckers” when he said it); the field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide (it’s actually tough to see what’s going on at far ends of the field because it is so large); and the teams each have 4 players on the field (which is a total of 9 horses running around when you account for the referee). Each team is trying to club the little white ball through their goal, which consists of two red poles about 8 yards apart at opposite ends of the field (neither team has a goalie). There are plenty of other intricacies as well, but once you understand those basics, you’re pretty well set to watch and be entertained.
I will say that one thing that stuck out to me was the relative lack of control and precision that the players had over the ball; I expected to see something akin to soccer or hockey with players passing back and forth while trying to march toward their goalpost. Instead, the strategy seemed more along the lines of – try to hit the ball in the general direction of your goal and follow it so that you can try to hit it again. I suppose that maybe I should have expected that since they are on large horses moving at high speed trying to hit a small ball with a skinny mallet several feet below – it’s not built for precision. Again, it was entertaining and interesting to watch. Check out a couple of pictures and short videos that I took from the event:
“The token American”:
Click for: Another YouTube video of the match. This one is a bit closer.
Again, although we weren’t able to take a hot air balloon ride, we were still glad that we did get a chance to see a polo match. I’m not sure that we’ll become regulars at the polo country club, but we did enjoy the event.