HHO’s beginners guide to polocrosse, one of the fastest growing equine sports in the UK
Polocrosse, as its name suggests, is a team sport combining the skills of polo and lacrosse. It was initially developed as an indoor sport in London in 1932 to improve a rider’s control over their horse.
The sport is now played outside on a field slightly bigger than a rugby pitch. A team consists of six riders, with three members playing in alternate chukkas lasting around 6mins. Six chukkas form a match.
Each rider carries a polocrosse racquet – a stick with a loose net at the head similar to a lacrosse stick – which is used to move the ball. The ball is made of sponge rubber and is approximately 4in across.
The aim of the game is to score goals by throwing the ball between the opposing teams goal posts. To achieve this you need to gain posession of the ball and out manoeuvre your opponents to get a shot on goal.
Polocrosse is a sport that can be played by riders of all ages. Good riding skills and balance will help, while stick and ball skills will develop with regular practice.
An ideal horse for a rider getting started in polocrosse will be one which remains calm and relaxed when being ridden in a group. A nervous animal that kicks out when in close proximity with others or is upset by the stick is not suitable. According to the UK Polocrosse Association the majority of horses adapt happily to the game and are suitable for riders to practice their skills.
Horses should wear over-reach boots and bandages to protect their legs, while a breastplate and over girth will help keep the saddle secure. Riders must wear a hat of a recognised safety standard.
Riders who are interested in finding out more should contact their nearest polocrosse club. The sport is also played in many branches of the Pony Club. To find your nearest club visit the UK Polocrosse Association website: www.polocrosse.org.uk
Your local club will help riders develop their stick and ball skills as well as explaining the rules of the game. Becoming a club member will enable you to play with more experienced players which will help beginners hone their skills.
Picture courtesy of Actions Shots, Solihull
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