As the name implies, it is a combination of polo and lacrosse. It is played outside, on a field, on horseback. Each rider uses a cane stick to which is attached a racquet head with a loose, thread net, in which the ball is carried. The ball is made of sponge rubber and is approximately 4” across. The objective is to score goals by throwing the ball between your opponent’s goal posts.
WHAT ABOUT MY HORSE?
Players are allowed only one horse per game, except in the case of injury. There is no restriction on their height, although the ideal is around 15.2 hands. Players do compete successfully on 16+ hand horses and horses of many breeds: Arab, Thoroughbred, Paint, Quarter Horse, Heinz 57. Just bring your favorite!
HOW MANY ARE ON A TEAM?
A team consists of 6 players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of a maximum of 8 minutes each. Four or eight chukkas comprise a full match. The three players in each section play the position of #1 attack, #2 center, or #3 defense.
HOW IS THE FIELD SET UP?
The field is 60 yards (55m) x 160 yards (146.5m), with three separate areas. Two goal scoring areas on each end where only the No.1 of the attacking team and the No. 3 of the defending team can play. The middle area is where everyone plays. Goal posts are 8 feet apart. To score, the ball must be thrown from outside an 11-yard semi-circle in front of the goal.
WHERE DOES THE GAME START?
It commences in centre field with the players lining up in front of the T, opposition between you and their goal. The No. 1’s in front, #2 in the middle and #3 out the back. The umpire throws the ball over the player’s heads. The game recommences similarly after a goal has been scored.
HOW DO YOU GET THE BALL FROM ONE END OF THE FIELD TO THE OTHER?
Players can pick up the ball off the ground, or catch it in their racquet, then ride with it, or throw it to an other players until the No.1 is in possession of it in the goal scoring area. A player cannot carry the ball over the penalty line in to the goal scoring area, but must bounce it or pass it to the #1 over the line. When carrying the ball, a player must carry it on the stick side, i.e., right handed players must carry it on the off-side of the horse. They can, however, pick-up or catch the ball on the nonstick side provided they immediately bring it back to their stick side.
WHAT STRATEGIES CAN YOU USE TO GET THE BALL AWAY FROM A PLAYER?
Hitting at an opponent’s stick to dislodge the ball is allowed. Riding off or pushing another player over the field boundaries is another strategy but referees will be watching closely for dangerous plays like crossing the line of the ball, pushing incorrectly, or elbowing. Strict rules are enforced to keep the game safe. WHO CAN PLAY? Basically anyone can play. Men and women compete together on the same teams or sometimes play men against men & women against women. There are different levels of play according to riding level and game skills. As in any sport there are those players who are competitive and those who aren’t. While in Australia we saw children as young as 6 competing on their ponies and many players over 65 still playing very competitively. Many people have discovered that polocrosse is a perfect family sport since it is possible for riders of all ages to find a level of competition that is right for them.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED?
Requirements for the rider are a helmet, boots and racquet. If spurs are worn they cannot have sharp rowels and whips must have a minimum 1 inch wide flap. For the horse you must have a breast collar, a bit with no protrusions, joined reins, leg wraps and bell boots, and a saddle without a horn. (For safety reasons and it tough to bend over and pickup the ball with a horn in the way)
Frequently Asked Questions about Polocrosse
What is the Racket?
A polocrosse racket is usually between 40 and 45 inches long. Most rackets are made of bamboo-like cane with a plastic head and loose net with a 12 inch or longer grip similar to a tennis racket. Like lacrosse the ball is picked up carried and thrown with the racket.
What is the ball like?
A polocrosse ball is between 4 inches in diameter, or about the size of a grapefruit. Balls are made of sponge rubber like a nurf ball with a latex cover. It very difficult to receive any kind of serious injury from a ball.
What do the numbers on the jerseys mean?
Those are the positions, from offense to defense. Watch how the players line up with the umpire to start the game. The players closest to the umpire play the ‘1’ position or goal scorer and is the only player on that team allowed into the opponents scoring area, the number 2 is the play maker and can only ride in center field, and finally the number 3 or defense is the only player on your team allowed into your goal scoring area Like most sports, it’s legal to block plays and take the ball in polocrosse, so players on the defensive team ‘cover their man’ and look for an opportunity to steal the ball and create an offensive drive of their own.
Okay , there was a big jumble and some guy in a striped shirt blew a whistle. What happened?
Like any sport, it takes a while to see plays or, in this case, fouls. The riders in striped shirts are the umpires. They are responsible for enforcing the rules and awarding penalties. A minor mistake could just result in possession of the ball going to the opposite team. Extremely dangerous or aggressive fouls can result in free points to the other team or even players being kicked out of the game. It helps if you read a copy of the polocrosse rules.
It seems awfully cruel to the horses. Why do you make them play ?
You might be surprised to learn that most polocrosse horses absolutely love playing. Some enjoy ‘bumping’ other horses or chasing the ball so much that it’s hard to get them to do anything else. The polocrosse pony is a cooperative partner on the field, so horses who are scared (spook from the ball or other ponies), angry (buck), or who otherwise won’t play polocrosse (won’t run, won’t stop) really can’t be forced to play. Those who don’t like polocrosse at all usually do fine in some other discipline. Additionally, most polocrosse ponies are treated like the valuable athletes they are. Since the pony is worth 70 to 80% of the player/rider team on the field (and a well-playing horse can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars), smart players take excellent care of their ponies. Come on over after the game and meet them.
Do I have to be able to ride like a madman?
It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not at all necessary. There are many people in most clubs that learned to ride and play polocrosse at the same time. The game is played at all levels, called grades. At any event there are at least three grades, A, B, and C, with a junior grade as well. Often there is a D grade as well for people who have never before participated in a tournament.
Do I have to have a super-duper horse to play ?
Absolutely not. Any horse will do. Horses pick up the game quickly and seem to enjoy it as much, if not more, than their riders. Any size, age, or breed. There is usually a melting pot of Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Paints, Paso’s, Walkers, Heinz 57, and even an occasional mule.
Do I need special tack?
All clubs require that helmets be worn when playing. It is also strongly recommend that you use polo wraps or sports medicine boots and bell boots as well as a breast collar. Bits with no shanks – like Stock saddles and a few English saddles, But whatever you have will do nicely to start with. Snaffles, Gags and Kimberwicks – and saddles without horns. Most club members ride in Australian
Since safety is stressed, is there something that you’re not telling me?
No secrets here. When you get lots of horses and people together, there are all sorts of interesting things that can happen. It is better to be safe than sorry. All of the rules of the game are about safety. Since polocrosse is an umpired game, there is always at least one, or more often two, umpires on the field, and are in complete control of the game play. The primary reason that they are on the field is to ensure the safety of both horse and rider. The umpires’ word is the law in these matters.
I’ve never been very athletic and my coordination is somewhat less than that of an Olympic gymnast, how could I hope to play any sort of team sport?
You’re among good company. Most cannot walk and chew gum at the same time anyway. There is an interesting phenomenon with polocrosse. Many of the better players were those people who always got picked last whenever sides were being chosen for some school sport. Lots of us spent our formative years condemned to play deep right field at any baseball game in which we participated. Polocrosse messing around by yourself with a stick and ball, playing a little impromptu one on one, or perhaps two on two with some friends to full scale tournament play. It’s all polocrosse, and it’s all fun. seems to have particular appeal for late bloomers and those of us that can’t dance.
Will playing polocrosse make my horse unmanageable in my regular discipline?
Just the opposite. Horses that play polocrosse rapidly develop a great deal of poise. Not only do they become absolutely bullet proof in short order, they also develop some moves you never knew they had. When you’re playing polocrosse you forget all about riding your horse, and you and your horse start moving as one. That’s why polocrosse is such a great way to learn how to ride. You are so focused on playing the game, horsemanship just naturally
Is playing an entire match on just one horse hard on my horse?
No harder than any other activity other than hanging around the barn. Of course the higher the level in which you participate, the more fit your horse has to be. By the rules, no horse is permitted to play more than 54 minutes on any day and in most competitions, the horses only play 32 minutes a day.
Do I have to have acres of grassy fields, white pants , and spit-shined tack to play ?
Certainly not. Unfortunately, all of the pictures and video that anyone ever gets to see show park like expanses of grassy fields, riders all in white pants and matching polo shirts, the horses immaculately groomed with matching saddle pads, wraps, and bell boots, leather glistening, etc. At tournaments this is pretty much the case but there’s a whole lot more polocrosse being played in jeans and T-shirts by people with bizarre assortments of mix and match tack on dirt fields and arenas than idyllic scenes that always seem to be in those pictures. No one seems to want to take a picture or shoot video of a bunch of people that look like a squad of rag pickers riding horses.
While the standard field is supposed to be 60 yards by 160 yards with grass as the surface of choice, there are in fact a lot more dirt fields than grass and there are variations of the game that can be played in any reasonably sized area, indoors or out. Polocrosse is much more of an activity than just a game played at tournaments.
• Helmet with chin strap
• Shirt with number
• Riding boots with heals
• Saddle with a surcingle
• Polo wraps or leg protection
• Bell boots
• No split or running reins
• Gear in poor condition
• Sharp spurs
• Saddle with a horn
• Whips without a flap
• Bits with side bars or protrusions
• One horse per player per weekend Never
• Play an uncontrollable horse or a stallion.
• Play another horse without first getting your horse vetted out.
• 6 player per team, 3 per side.
• Wear your head gear
• Correctly numbered shirt
• Use foul language or argue with the referee
• Change position during a game without notifying the time keeper, referee and the opposing captain. Stopping Play for Broken Equipment:
• When it is dangerous
• When you drop your racquet.
Player ‘ Positions:
• Goal Scorer plays in their end zone and center field
• Play maker, plays in Center field
• The defender, plays in center field and your end zone.
• In player number order (1-2-3)
• Have the other team between you and your goal
• Quickly gather in mid field, pair up, and advance toward the ref when they indicate.
• Keep your eye on the ball
• Hunt the ball.
• Advance ahead of your opponent as you ride into the referee or move over your side of the T line.
• Pressure your horse in the line up
• Goals are made by the number one.
• They must shot from outside 11 yard circle.
• They must be inside the goal scoring area.
• You must be in control of the ball
• Cross the center line of your horse with the ball.
• Free throw for the other teams’ number three.
• Throw is from the 30 yard line at a direct line from where the missed shot went out of bounds.
• They ride to the point indicated by the referee and throw the ball in the air about 8 yards out, let it bounce up and catch it.
• They can not be interfered wit until they touch the ball.
• Number one must follow the number three nose to hip.
• Touch the ball before it goes ten yards.
• Be within ten yards from where the number three throws the ball (except for the number one who is following them).
• Bounce or pass the ball over the line.
• Pickup a ball siting on the 30 yard line from inside the zone.
• Carry the ball across the line.
Out of Play :
• If the ball is on the line it is out of play.
• The horse’s feet indicate that you are out of bounds.
• Come back onto the field within 10 meter of where you left not in another part of the field.
• Give yourself a least a horse length spacing when crossing another players line.
• Throwing the ball doesn’t give you the right of way to the ball.
• 2 players have right of way over 1
• Player riding closest to the line of the ball has right of way
• A player riding the same direction as the line of the ball has right of way
• If the ball has no line of travel then the closest player has right of way.
• Never ride over the back end of another horse
• Endanger yourself or another player
• Cut someone off.
• Stop on the ball or turn back on the ball.
• Dangerously cross the path of another player.
Dangerous Play :
• Play safely; think safety.
• Its like driving a car, always look before changing lanes.
• Never ride over the back end of another horse.
• Bump at dangerous angles or hard enough to dislodge a horse from their line of travel.
• Push another horse behind the saddle or in front of the shoulder.
• Sandwich someone between two other players.
• Jostle or bump during time off
Carrying the Ball:
• Carry the ball on your racquet side.
• If you pickup or catch the ball on the off side, bring the ball immediately to your racquet side.
• Swing upwards to hit an opponent’s racquet.
• When evading a hit watch not to cross your center line.
• Reach across someone’s horse to hit their racquet.
• Hit someone’s racquet if they don’t have the ball or they aren’t trying to get the ball.
• Give wood in the zone, your horse shoulder ahead of their hip and no further ahead than your horses hip to their horses shoulder.
• Push another player above the elbows while keeping your elbows close to your side.
• Swing your racket in an upward motion.
• Hold another player, their stick, or their reins
• Elbow, or hit another player
• Swing your racquet wildly.
• Hit you opponents racket in a down ward motion.
• Let your horses head hit someone.
• Never let your horse bite or kick.
• Hit any horse with your racquet.
• Hit someone else’s horse with your whip or spurs.
5 levels of penalty
• A free throw to the non-offending side.
• A free throw, taken within Centre Field.
• A free throw at goal taken 10 meters in front of the goal.
• The side fouled shall be awarded one goal.
• The horse ordered off the field and disqualified from being played again during the match.
• The umpire may exclude a player from the game for part of the match in addition to any other penalty.
• Argue with the umpire.
• Interfere with someone taking a free throw until they have had the 1st attempt.
• Throw the ball at another player.