BASKING RIDGE, New Jersey (WABC) — If you’ve ever watched a polo match, the idea of playing it may seem intimidating.
Eyewitness News’ Community Journalist, Miguel Amaya, got a chance to visit the Shannon Hill Polo Club in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, to help you understand the basics of polo and see for himself if this sport is as difficult as it seems.
“Horsemanship is first. If you don’t have horsemanship, you’ll have a difficult time swinging the mallet and it won’t be as fun,” said Dani Wasty, polo player and horse trainer at Shannon Hill Polo Club.
The objective of polo is simple: to score more points than the opponent. It is played by two teams of four players each on a 300 yard long and 200 yards wide field.
In terms of equipment, the most obvious piece is a horse specifically bred for the game of Polo, known as Polo pony. Other essential pieces are a helmet, a polo stick, knee guards, a special saddle, and a ball.
A match usually consists of 4 to 6 plays also known as chukkas, each lasting 7 minutes of actual play and a score is made by hitting the ball between the goalposts. The team with the most amount of goals at the end of the match is declared the winner. However, if the game is drawn, another chukka is played and the first to score wins.
“Depending on the person’s horsemanship; if they’ve been riding their whole life they can excel pretty rapidly, in a year you could be playing in the open field in a real aggressive competitive game. If you haven’t been riding and never ridden before it’s going to take at least four to five years until you can be in an aggressive competitive game-like situation,” said Wasty.
To learn more about New Jersey Polo Club, you can visit their website.