Polo is a team sport, 4 players on a team, and 2 umpires on the field. A game is 4 or 6 chukkars (periods) of 7.5 minutes each. Arena polo has three players on a team. The object is to put the ball through your opponents goal, a goal is one point.
Teams are handicapped by the USPA rating system. Each player has an assigned handicap based on their abilities, the ratings range from -2 ( very beginner players) to 10 goals (professionals). The combined ratings of the players becomes the team handicap.
All players must hold the mallet in their right hand, no matter if they are left or right handed. This is a safety rule similar to driving on the right hand side of the road. The rules can seem quite complicated, but the basic premise is safety first.
Equipment needed are helmet and boots at least, for the player. Knee guards, safety glasses and gloves are recommended. The horses require leg wraps and their manes are clipped and tails are tied up so as not to cause equipment to become tangled in them. Polo tack can appear quite daunting to a beginner, but it is again, all about safety.
Generally players have several horses, the play is quite taxing, with a lot of running, stopping and turning. Most horses are played only one chukkar, or at more amateur levels, two with a break in between. Players usually have helpers, or grooms, often family members who assist with preparation and handling of the horses before, during and after the game.