When people think of spring sports, they might think baseball or tennis; when they think summer, they might think swimming, and fall sports usually bring to mind soccer or football. There’s a sport however commonly played from spring to fall that has been around for centuries and once again gaining popularity, especially here in Middle Tennessee. Polo, once named “Sport of Kings” has been around for something like 2,000 years and once originated in Persia. It was later revived when the British invaded the Middle East, and now remains a sport played internationally.
What is Polo
Like with a lot of games involving a ball, the mission is for the teams to work together to get the ball through the opposing team’s goal posts. The difference is that players are on horseback in teams of 3-4, depending on whether inside or outside, hitting the ball with a bamboo mallet. The team with the highest score after 4-6 periods of play, called chukkers, win the game, and in the event of a tie, like most games, play goes into overtime.
For the safety of the players and their horses, there are two key rules that guide the game play.
Rules of the Game
Players must follow the “line of the ball” meaning they must approach it from the line the ball creates as it travels down the field. This line represents a right of way for the player that most recently stroked the ball. Opposing players may hook their opponent’s mallet or “ride-off” their opponent in order to gain control of the ball.
Plays must also follow a set of rules that determines which players have “Right of Way.” Essentially, it’s the two or more players that are in proximity to the ball or in the line of the ball ahead. Unlike Line of the Ball, this is determined by who can safely enter or cross the right of way to avoid collisions.
Besides the above rules, there are some that guides how the team can play determined by the level and strength of the horse and the player combined. Depending on the combination, a team can be given handicaps to make the game fair for both teams and their players. Further, there are limits on how mallets can be used.
While the rules can be described with some accuracy, the best way, as with any spor, is to watch it for yourself. There’s a handful of opportunities coming up. The most immediate event is the International polo cup between USA and Mexico. See below for details.
Hap n Harry’s International Polo Cup – USA vs. Mexico
Saturday, June 1 from 5:30-9:30
Harlinsdale Farm, 239 Franklin Rd, Franklin
On Saturday, June 1st, USA takes on Mexico in the Hap & Harry’s Beer International Polo Cup at The Tractor Supply Co. Arena at Harlinsdale Farm for a twilight match under the lights. Join in on the thrilling polo matches, music, food/drinks, kids activities, half-time challenges, and more. You don’t want to miss out!.
$10 General Admission tickets (sold day of)
Kids 10 & under get in FREE
VIP Cabanas available for purchase in advance
(Be sure to reserve yours soon, they sell quick!)
Other events coming up include:
- Saturday, July 13 USA vs South Africa Hosted by Franklin Polo Academy at Harlinsdale Farm, 239 Franklin
- Saturday, Sept 7 Chukkers for Charity at Riverview Farm, 1475 Morand Rd, benefitting Rochelle Center and Saddle Up
- Sunday, October 27 Poloween Hosted by Franklin Polo Academy at Harlinsdale Farm, 239 Franklin
More events are being planned in the fall, so look out for more opportunities to learn the game and enjoy it with some friends.
This article is brought to you by Franklin Horse Supply.
About Franklin Horse Supply
Franklin Horse Supply is Middle Tennessee’s newest and most complete horse supply store. They carry a full line of English and Western tack, clothing and accessories, as well as your favorite horse care products. Learn more here.
Find Franklin Horse Supply at 1561 Columbia Ave, Franklin.