The history of the Polo sport
Polo is one of the oldest ball sports in the world. Much before Christ (BCE), the sport was practiced in Persia whereby often hundreds of participants would be playing on either side. It was an exercise to test which horses would be strong enough for warfare.
Around the 16th century, Mogul fighters brought the polo game to the Himalayas, where entire villages played each other. At first, the heads of defeated enemies were used, and later the heads of animals. Ultimately, this practice was changed to the ‘Pulu’ (Tibetan for ‘Willow branch’), which corrupted to ‘polo’.
British tea plantation owners in Burma were introduced to the polo sport around 1850. The British colonialists and military in the North of India and what is now Pakistan were also introduced to the sport. It proved a useful way to train military horses. In 1863, the Brits established one of the first polo clubs: “Polo Club Calcutta”. Followed by the first match in the United Kingdom in 1869, after which the polo sport was adopted enthusiastically by the British Army; they called it ‘Hockey by horse’.
The Hurlingham Polo Club in London quickly grew into the center of the polo sport. It was here that in 1875 the first official rules were drafted. Important was the introduction of a so-called handicap system, in order for various levels of players to still compete with each other. This made the sport gain in social character and thus spread to other parts of the globe.
In 1875, the first polo match in Argentina was a fact, the country which nowadays is considered the ‘Walhalla’ of the polo sport. Argentina not only enjoys the ideal weather and facilities but also has the best horses and players.
Other renowned polo countries are the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Brazil, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Due to the steady growth of enthusiasts in other countries, more and more countries are adding their presence to this list.