Horse Polo - Although often considered an exclusive sport of the rich, the popularity of this sport has increased in recent years. This article will outline the origins and development of polo to what it is today in all its variations.
This sport was first played in the area of former Persia during the 5th century BC. Originally it was a method of training military cavalry and prepare men for battle. It later became the national sport of Iran with both women and men taking part.
During medieval times horse polo spread to other countries including Egypt, India and China. In India a modified version of polo was played in the Manipur area from where it was brought to England in the 19th century. The modern British version is much slower than the polo played in Manipur.
This sport also spread to South America and the United States of America and is still popular in many Asian countries. Today it is actively played in 77 countries around the world. It was recently recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee.
A field polo team includes four players per team. Each player has a mallet used to control a wooden or plastic ball. The aim of the game is to score goals.
The players use polo ponies which are often of Thoroughbred breeding. The players’ mounts are always called ponies although most of them are horses. Characteristics of a good polo pony include speed, agility and good nerves as the game is fast in tempo. As players use only one hand to hold reins, mounts have to be easily controlled and sensitive to the aids of the player.
Players usually have at least four spare ponies in every match to enable replacement of tired mounts. Horse polo is very exhausting for even an experienced polo pony.
Traditionally this sport is played on a grass field but modern adaptations include sand arenas, snow and beaches. Popular variations of polo include polo-cross which is a game influenced by both polo and lacrosse.
This sport has long roots in history and the development of the game to what it is today has been shaped by its popularity around the world. Although modern polo can still be quite costly to take part in, variations of the game have made the game more accessible to everyone.
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