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  • Writer's pictureLakeside Polo Club

How did Polo Originate?

While the sport of polo is the oldest team sport, its origins go back further than recorded history and was most likely played by nomadic warriors over two thousand years ago.

Mounted nomads in Central Asia played a version of polo that was part sport and part training for war, with as many as 100 men on a side. The game followed the nomads' migration to Persia (modern Iran) sometime between 600 B.C. and 100 A.D.

In Persia, polo became a national sport, played by the nobility and military men. The game was formalized and spread west to Constantinople, east to Tibet, China and Japan, and south to India.

Modern polo originated in Manipur, a northeastern state of India. The Silchar Polo Club was founded in 1859 by British military officers and tea planters, after Lieutenant Joe Sherer saw the locals playing polo and said, "We must learn the game!" From India, polo spread as fast as its enthusiasts could travel, appearing in Malta in 1868, England in 1869, Ireland in 1870, Argentina in 1872 and Australia in 1874.

On a trip to England, James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald, saw his first polo game. Early in 1876, he returned to New York with mallets, balls and a copy of the Hurlingham rules. The first game was played at a city riding academy; in the spring they moved outdoors to a field in Westchester County. That summer, the New York players took polo to Newport, R.I. Soon the galloping game was being played across North America.

Nowadays, polo is played professionally in 16 countries, including Argentina, England, Mexico and the United States. Polo is played in two predominant forms: outdoor (grass) and indoor (arena). The indoor variant is played by two teams of three per side on a football field-sized arena. Outdoor polo is played by teams of four on a grass field measuring 300 by 150 yards - the size of 9 football fields. Each game is divided into four or size 7½ minute periods called "chukkers" or "chukkas". It is easy to transition between indoor and outdoor play, and many of our members enjoy playing both.

Although the regulation height of a "polo pony" was originally capped at 14.2 hands, modern day polo ponies can be horses of any size. The average height is roughly 15.1 hands. Most modern polo ponies are mostly Thoroughbred by breeding and are sometimes crossed with stock breeds such as the Quarter Horse or Criollo. Defining characteristics of a polo pony are speed, stamina, athleticism, intelligence and a love of the game.

We welcome you to Lakeside Polo Club, a so-called hidden gem, nestled in San Diego, California. Polo is one of the most exhilarating and contagious sports in the world. If you have been sitting on the side-lines and watching polo matches with a touch of envy, then Lakeside Polo Club will get you into the saddle. It's easy to start polo and become a polo player, we can guarantee you will love it. If you already have the polo bug, Lakeside Polo Club is the place where you can practice, improve and have fun.

Our former interscholastic team from the 2017 season.

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