Viewing entries tagged
polo players

The Unspoken Rules of Polo (aka Polo Etiquette)

The Unspoken Rules of Polo (aka Polo Etiquette)


Polo is a sport with many names, one of which being the ‘Game of Kings’ and the name isn’t for nothing. Polo really is a very gentlemanly sport with the rules being created to protect human and horse competitors alike and a whole etiquette system to boot existing around the sport and its players. We’ve got all your queries about the etiquette of polo covered so that next time you hit the field, especially for those beginner players hitting the field for the first time, you know what to do and how to act.


1. Tardiness

Like any team sport, polo is dependent on coordinating a variety of factors into a perfect storm scenario; from the weather to eight (or more) busy people’s schedules, to sixteen or more horses and their grooms it’s a constant challenge to organize a polo match. That said, do your best not to show up late or unprepared. If the other players can do their part to coordinate their busy schedules in order to arrive on time, organize their horses for the match and arrive prepared you can too.


2. The Pre-Game Handshake

The first thing any polo player does when they take to the field before a match starts is ride up to the other players, on their team and on the opposing team, and shake hands or introduce themselves etc. As a team sport, polo is a social sport, and even the most intense tournament at its core is about having some fun with fellow players. So take the moment to relax, introduce yourself, and familiarize yourself with the other players because it will go a long way with your teammates and your opposition if they know your name on the field. Not to mention, polo is a sport heavily based on networking, teams are formed for each specific tournament so if another player likes what they see and wants you to play together in the next tournament them knowing your name goes a long way towards getting that chance to play together again.


3. Fouls

Ideally, every player aims not to foul on the field. However, even the best players foul sometimes. When it happens other players may be seen throwing their mallets up in the air and yelling 'foul' to the umpire or anyone paying attention. When it happens just admit your mistake, apologize to your team and file that mistake away in your memory bank as something not to do next time. It’s as simple as that.


4. Switching Ponies in between Chukkers

In between each chukker, players must head for the sidelines or back to their trailers to switch their ponies for the following chukker. It’s considered good manners to only take as long as absolutely necessary in between chukkers, other players don’t enjoy being held up while you take your sweet time trading ponies.


5. No Heckling

It's all for fun and games and a little teasing in a practice game is one thing but out right heckling and yelling from the sidelines or from your pony aren't really considered polite behaviour on the polo field, after all we are civilized ladies and gentlemen and the sport really is about getting out there, having some fun and maybe winning a nice trophy when it's all said and done. 


6. The Post-Game Handshake

Polo is a game of many handshakes. And in addition to the pre-game handshake it’s customary to shake hands with the other players, teammates, and opposition, once again after the game finishes. Players usually also thank each other and congratulate them on a game well played. You probably shouldn’t leave the field without participating in this little ritual or the others might think you didn’t enjoy playing with them or simply think you're just not a very polite person. Save your reputation and shake hands. 


7. Grooms

They work tirelessly to ensure that your horses are in tip top shape to take to the field when you do and look good while they’re out there. So throw them a quick thank you after the game for all they do to keep your horses happy, fit and healthy.


8. Divot Stomping

After the game, when the ponies have been put away, the players have cooled down and let the adrenaline die down from an exciting match it’s customary for all the players to head out onto the field and ‘stomp the divots’ or clean up the field. It goes a long way towards ingratiating yourself with the field owner, who likely works tirelessly on keeping the field in playable condition and considers the field their pride and joy, if you make an effort towards repairing some of the damage you may have made.


9. Post Game Socializing

Like we mentioned above, polo is a social sport and any player would agree that taking the time to socialize with other players off the field is nearly as important as playing the game. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances, like scheduling conflicts and match delays. But generally, players plan to linger for at least fifteen minutes after the game finishes to debrief and converse with their fellow players. If you’re lucky some matches will include asados (Argentine barbecues) or refreshments after the game, even more incentive to stick around the field after the game to debrief and catch up with what’s happening in your teammates lives off the field.


10.  Beer

While it’s not always the case and there are many exceptions to the rule. At Polo Management Services/Toronto Polo School, when a player makes an unplanned dismount during the game aka takes a tumble we are owed a case of beer or something equivalent. It’s our way of providing a little motivation for you not to take a tumble, you are welcome. 


So there you have it, your guide to the unspoken rules of polo. You can thank us next time you attempt to navigate the tricky waters of polo match etiquette and know exactly what to do. 

Destination Polo: Argentina

Destination Polo: Argentina

Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the mid point in the summer, even though it feels like it just started because the good weather took so long to arrive. It’s at this point in the summer that people look towards the fall and start making plans for those cool Toronto fall days.

If you’re a polo player, the fall also means the end of field polo season and the beginning of the arena or snow polo season in Toronto. A sad time of year indeed. But there’s one thing that saves us all for our winter away from the fields and that’s Argentina.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again. Argentina and its people are hugely influential when it comes to the ‘polo culture’ and ‘polo lifestyle’. From the go to catering choice of Argentinian Barbecue (aka Asado) to the presence of Spanish and Spanish speakers around every polo field, you can’t really escape Argentina when you’re a polo player.

And with good reason. Argentina is home to some of the best polo players, matches, fields, and horses in the world. You won’t see better polo than you’ll see on field number one at Palermo, especially if you happen to get tickets to see the final of the ‘Open’.

It’s because of the importance of Argentina within the polo world and the high caliber of polo that can be watched and played during their peak season each November that players from all over the world hop the next flight down to the mecca of polo for a few weeks of red wine, red meat, and polo. Let’s just say it’s our way of stocking up and overdosing on polo before we all return home to our indoor arenas.

Photo by Alejandra de Miguel

Photo by Alejandra de Miguel

Where you may limit yourself to playing every other day or as little as once or twice a week in the summer season in Toronto (you have to pace yourself somehow, right?), in Argentina you play every single day (as long as your body can handle it and the weather holds out). You ride through those sore muscles and continually remind yourself that there’s no more polo like this once you hop that plane back home, so a little pain now will be worth it in the long run.

Because everyone who is anyone makes the trip down at the same time of year, it’s also a social opportunity. You never know who you may find yourself taking the field with or standing beside in the bar at the Campo Argentino de Polo aka Palermo. While it’s a social sport, polo can sometimes feel a little lonely, because people outside polo often don’t realize that it exists or understand it even if they do know that it exists but in Argentina everyone around very much knows it exists, can point you to the closest field and can and will give you their opinions of the players you’re watching, the ponies they played this morning and where they stand on the issues of cloning among others topics. So in a way, it’s kind of refreshing not to have to dumb down or explain the world that you’ve been so swept up by because everyone around you has the addiction as you…an addiction to polo.

It’s also a chance for newer players to get to the root of the Argentine influence of the sport. Once you’ve seen Cambiaso and La Dolfina and Ellerstina and the Pieres’ duke it out on field number one at Palermo well let’s just say that there will be no doubt in your mind why these guys are the best-ranked players in the world. If you weren’t hooked before you certainly will be now.

The food is a whole other reason to make the trip. You’ve likely had the chance to try an Asado at some point in your polo career you’ve probably never had a real authentic Asado. Because while we try to do Asados justice when we do them in Canada they never quite seem to measure up to the Argentine standard, there’s something in the laidback approach to entertaining for an ever changing number of guests with piles of meat slow cooked over an open flame that we Canadians can’t quite get perfect. Not to mention how fast Asados can be thrown together; you can be field side after an evening game in Argentina with no dinner plans only to have everyone band together and divide the work that needs to be done to host an Asado in a matter of minutes. But it’s not ALL about the meat, well not really, Argentina is also home to some of the best Italian food outside of Italy.

Especially coming from Canada where polo equipment is hard to come by and particularly limited in selection going to Argentina is your chance to stock up on all the equipment you may need for the following season. Mallets, helmets, knee pads, boots, whites, polo belts…the list goes on. You may very well need a second suitcase to get the stuff home but its easy to justify an equipment shopping spree down there because you just can’t find the stuff back home.

So aside from it being hugely important as a social opportunity and as a cultural experience, any amount of constant time spent practicing and playing polo will hugely improve your game so while you may be a little worse for wear on your flight back home, your game and your handicap will thank you.

But how does it all work?

Everyone has different requirements for their annual Argentina trip and each individual will want their own balance of playing, watching, eating, shopping and socializing. All different combinations can be arranged. The popularity of polo down there, especially in the peak season, means that there’s an never ending stream of people looking to accommodate players of all levels and interests.

For help in finding the place that will give you’re looking for and be most suitable for your playing level or to sharpen up your game skills with some lessons and matches before you leave contact us at