Understanding polo equipment is essential to enjoying the sport. The diversity of products can seem confusing, but there are several rules that make the process easier.
The mallet itself is vitally important, and should be designed to fit the player. Its length depends on the pony's height, and its weight depends on your style of playing the game. For safety, riders need a face-guard and helmet. Because of the dangerous nature of the sport, one’s head and face must be protected at all times. Clip-on face-guards are recommended by many experts because they detach from the head when a mallet is caught in it, or the midst of severe impacts – this helps prevent injuries in the neck.
Polo boots must be high quality for a variety of reasons, including stability and protection. The leather should be thick, and the boots should protect the ankles while also providing good support. The sole and spurs must be high quality as well. Zipped boots are recommended because they’re easy to put on.
Knee pads are important, given that one’s legs are vulnerable during play. The more protection, the better. The best pads are specifically designed for the game, and have Velcro straps with leather at the front. This improves comfort, security and safety. Two gloves are recommended, though some riders choose to wear just one. The material should be both breathable and durable, in order to better grip the mallet and reigns.
Polo whites must be designed specifically for the sport, to make sure one is comfortable while playing. The legs of polo jeans are somewhat tapered.
The horse – or more commonly called the 'pony' – is the most important component of the game. Without the pony’s expert skills, a player can do very little. Polo ponies must be able to enjoy the sport and mentally follow what's happening. The animals need strong enough legs to endure the game, and be fast enough to compete with other horses. In terms of personality, ponies should be courageous, obedient and willing to attack. These traits not only improve the game, but also protect the horses’ safety.
These are the essential components of polo, a sport which has existed for over 2,000 years. Though the rules have varied throughout the centuries, the spirit of the game is a constant force.