The first recorded polo match played in Ireland was in Co. Carlow, in 1872, with the All Ireland Polo Club (Dublin) being founded later, in 1874.
One hundred and twenty one years on, the first Arena Polo match was played in Ireland in Co. Wicklow, in 1993, and the same year Polo Wicklow with its two grass fields and full sized arena became the only facility offering both grass polo and arena polo for twelve months of the year. There are now nine clubs and between 100 and 150 players in Ireland.
Throughout the summer months, The All Ireland Polo Club, in cooperation with Palo Alto Polo Club from Argentina, have a polo academy. There is an option for an introduction lesson or packages. Every lesson will focus on riding and then move on to the polo technique (shots, ride off, strategy and rules). As you progress the speed and difficulty level increases, bringing you closer to becoming a polo player.
For more information contact them here.
How to Play
✦ There are two teams of four aside on grass (at the end of the grass season we transfer immediately to the arena season where it’s three aside)
✦ Teams change ends after every goal.
✦ A game is made up of four ‘chukkas’ with each chukka lasting 7.5 minutes. There’s also three minutes between each chukka and a half-time interval of five minutes (during which spectators are encouraged to help replace mounds of earth on the field in ‘divot stomping’).
✦ Polo is always played right-handed.
✦ Players are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 with 1 usually offence and 4 usually defence, although all players have the full use of the field.
✦ At Wicklow Polo the recent rule of continuous play after a ball has been scored, makes the game much more exciting for both players and spectators. The chukka length is reduced to 6 and a half minutes to take into account the continual play.
In general it is most important to ensure that the fast flow of Arena Polo (which makes the game so special to play and exciting to watch) is preserved and the game is played with a minimum of interruptions.
Management of the ponies has changed due to the ‘twelve months’ season as the Professional player and grooms have permanent jobs and care of the ponies is continuous. Following the system of care pioneered in America, ponies now have regular short breaks during the year, they do not loose condition and there is no need for a rigorous fitness program when brought back in to work. Visiting players have commented on the quality, ability and well being of the horses now in their twelfth year of this regime in Ireland.
Ireland has a structure of XXXX competitions
Most polo ponies have thoroughbred origins and many ex-racehorses up to 15.2hh can be well suited to Polo, depending on their temperaments.
Siobhan Herbst is rated the county’s top female polo player, captain of the ladies’ national team and boss at Wicklow Polo Club, Ireland’s only all-weather, year-round polo club. She can be contacted at http://polowicklow.com or on 00353 (0)87 2869 691