Polocrosse is an exciting equestrian sport that combines the thrill of mounted polo with ball skills of lacrosse. Polocrosse in a competitive and fast-paced game that is currently played in countries across the world. The sport is open to anyone with a horse and willingness to learn.
History of Polocrosse
Polocrosse began as an equestrian training routine developed from a fusion of polo and lacrosse. Polo originated in 5th Century B.C. in the Arab world of Persia. The game spread and modern polo became popular among the elite in societies. Lacrosse began as a Native American sport played with sticks and nets and a ball.
Polocrosse as it is today was created in 1938 in Australia. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hirst watched polocrosse as a training opportunity for young equestrians and decided to bring the exercise back to Australia. Training polocrosse was played inside of a training arena and used equipment modified from polo and squash. The Hirsts then created polocrosse in its modern form.
Polocrosse is a sport played on an outdoor field, either grass or dirt. The field measures 160 yards by 60 yards. At either end of the long field, there is a goal, an 11-yard semi circle around the goal and a penalty line 30 yards out. Goals must be scored within that penalty line.
Each team consists of six players and six horses. Unlike traditional polo, each player is restricted to using only one horse. This rule was made to ensure that polocrosse could be accessible for those who are not wealthy enough for a team of Thoroughbreds. There are no restrictions that determine what kind of horse is used, as long as the horse is fit and healthy.
During the game, three players from each team play at a time. The other three players from each team sub in at the next chukka. Chukkas are periods of time lasting six to eight minutes, depending on where the game is played. Each player is assigned to a position, 1, 2 or 3. The player 1 is on offense and only player 1 can score on the goal. Additionally, only player 1 is able to occupy the goal scoring area. Player 3 from the opposing team plays defense in the goal scoring area. The middle area is occupied by the number 2 players from each team. These players are responsible for moving the ball forward and passing to their scoring teammate.
The players move the ball forward through passing drills. Since no player can carry the ball across the penalty line, the players will often use a bounce maneuver to drop the ball and pick it up again. Players can pick up any dropped ball with their sticks, but once they have possession of the ball, they must hold their stick on their stick side. This is to prevent cross checking and dangerous movements.
In the event of a penalty, the offended player is given a penalty throw. The player is allowed to take a 10 yard penalty throw, which can lead to an advantage in moving down the field. Players race up and down the field, attempting to score goals through each chukka and the team with the most goals is declared the winner.
The sport of polocrosse is open to any horse. While any horse is able to play, generally a good polocrosse is quick and agile. As game play can last a while, the horse must also have good endurance. In Australia, the Australian Stock Horse was often the horse of choice of polocrosse.
The Australian Stock Horse is strong, quick and agile. In the ranch days of Australia, a horse needed to be tough and able to withstand long, difficult rides. The Australian Stock Horse turned out to be the perfect fit with its muscular, lean body and strong back. Australian Stock Horses also have a good temperament and are above average intelligence, which comes in handy for obedience and training in polocrosse. As the horse plays an entire game, it was also important that they had great stamina.
In the United States, Quarter Horses are a good competitor in polocrosse. Quarter Horses were named according to their ability to outpace other horses in a quarter-mile sprint. This explosive speed over short distances is ideal for polocrosse. Additionally, Quarter Horses are said to be able to turn on a dime, which is why they were so popular in the old west. Today, they are the top competitors in rodeo competitions and their agility is also used on the polocrosse field.
Players wear uniforms, as well as protective equipment in polocrosse. Some players wear kneepads for collisions with other opponents and horses. All players wear helmets for safety. Horses are fitted with bell boots and leg wraps to protect their legs during the game. Horse injuries can often be devastating, so the safety of the horse is paramount in polocrosse as in any other equestrian discipline. There are not specific regulations regarding the tack for horses in polocrosse, but players must use humane bits, reins, etc.
Players also need a racquet to play the sport. Racquets are specialized for polocrosse and look like lacrosse sticks but with a wider area for a net and a thick rim around the net. The balls are about the size of a baseball and come in a variety of colors. Players generally wear white jeans with riding boots and matching team shirts.
Polocrosse is an exciting and growing sport across the United States. Polocrosse has the thrill of polo with the accessibility of lacrosse. Horse sports that have once been reserved for the wealthy and elite are now open to all people. From children to adults, women and men, anyone can find a league and begin to play polocrosse. With a racquet, a horse and a willingness to learn, anyone can become the next polocrosse champion.
Spectators and players alike enjoy the sport of polocrosse. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and with it comes polocrosse. For riders looking to improve their skills and competitors looking for an equestrian-mounted sport that is fun for all, polocrosse fits a number of needs in the horse sport world.