Probably the oldest team sport, polo dates back to over 2,000 years ago. It was first played by nomadic warriors, and the first recorded tournament was held in 600 BC. Since its origin in Persia, the game has been associated with the nobles and kings of the country. It is also linked to the upper classes in Britain through the militia.
In the Middle Ages, it was used as a training tool for the cavalry, and it was played almost like a battle. It was first introduced to western peoples through British tea planters in India and then spread to Burma and Malta. In 1869, the first game was organized by officers stationed at Aldershot.
The first official written rules for the game were written in the 19th century by Captain John Watson of the British cavalry. In 1874, the Hurlingham Rules were added, which limited the number of players on each side. The size of the field has not changed since one of the first artificial Polo fields was built in the 1500s in Ispahan, Iran. Today, it is used as a public park.
Aside from the actual pitch, a run-off area is also used. Incidents that happen within this area are considered to have occurred in the confines of the actual field.
When playing on an open field, four players are on horseback. When playing in an enclosed stadium, three players are on each team. Due to its nature, Polo is not a season sport, and a new variation known as snow polo is available. This variation of the game is considered different from the traditional game due to the different conditions.
A full game of Polo consists of 8 or 4 “chukkas,” which are played for around seven minutes. The bell is then rung and the game continues until the ball goes out of play.
A three-minute break is then given between each chukka. During this time, the players dismount and change their horses. Usually, a fresh pony is brought in to replace an old one, but it’s not uncommon for two horses to be rotated.
The ends of the field are then changed after each goal is scored. Polo is considered to be the fastest ball game in the world due to the fact that its players are mounted on horseback.