No one knows when man started fitting stirrups to his primitive saddle, but as soon as he did, he probably began to play a game like polo. It is one of the oldest and fastest team games.
The History of the Game
The first recorded game occurred about 600 BC in North Persia from where it spread slowly East as far as China and Japan. However, it was not until around the middle of the 19th century that the beginnings of polo as we know it today took shape, when soldiers and merchants in Northern India adopted a game then played by Manipuri hillsmen. The name 'polo' is derived from the Indian 'pulu' for the wood from which the ball was made and the word 'chukka' comes from the Indian word for a circle or round.
Although the first polo club, The Retreat at Silchar in India, was founded in 1859, no formal rules were produced until 1875 when Hurlingham in London became the recognised headquarters of the game. During the past 100 years, the game has expanded throughout the world and is now regularly played in over 50 different countries.
The principal playing countries are currently Argentina, USA, Mexico, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Since the 1950's, Argentina has consistently set the standards of the modern game and has produced both the best players and the ponies most suited to the sport. Since then the game has grown rapidly, benefiting enormously from the active participation and support of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and in turn from HRH The Prince of Wales.
In recent years, further momentum has been given to the game by increasing levels of commercial sponsorship and promotion.There are now over 30 polo clubs in the British Isles, with approximately 1,200 players spread through the UK and Ireland. The ruling body of the game is the Hurlingham Polo Association.