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Polo | Under the Sun Sports to get a Suntan

Equine Polo is first recorded in China in 600 B.C., with the first polo club being set up in 1859 by British tea planters in India.  The name Polo most likely has roots in the Tibetan name of a similar game, Pulu.  The oldest club still in existence is also in India, The Calcutta Polo Club.  Polo arrived in England with the return of British officers in 1869, was transported to Argentina in 1875 and Australia and the United States in 1876; at which time the Westchester Polo Club of New York was founded.  In 1890 the United States Polo Association was founded to govern the sport and in 1900 it is first played in the Olympics.  It was not until 1982 that an international body for this sport was created, The Federation of International Polo.  In 1989 due to the growth of the sport, certified professional umpires were created to handle the increase in professional players.  Indoor polo exists but most fields are located in the sunny outdoors. 



Each team consists of 4 players and left handed players must play right handed for safety reasons.  Games consist of 4, 5, or 6 periods or chukkers, each chukker is 7 ½ minutes long with no time outs except due to injuries to horse or rider.  A different horse is used for each chukker, therefore a minimum of 6 horses are needed per team member.  In addition the equipment required includes the tack, mallets, balls, protective riding boots, knee pads, protection for the horse’s legs, helmets, shirts and breeches.  Expensive!  The polo field is 9 times larger than a football field, being 300 x 160 yards of grass, and in between chukkers the spectators go onto the field to replace the divots.  If the ball breaks during play then the largest part continues to be in play.  This is a serious game.  Being outside, sun protection is a major consideration amongst spectators and women love being able to wear gorgeous broad brimmed hats for looks, as well as, sun protection.  Flashy sunglasses also are a necessary accessory for the best dressed at these events.  Makeup with sunscreen is also a wise choice when attending a game.  Players should make sunscreen or tanning lotion a part of their pre game routine.  Don’t forget sunscreen for the horses as well!



January 21 – 24, 2010 the 6th Berenberg Snow-Polo was played in Klosters, Switzerland by six hearty teams on a smaller than regulation field and attracts members of high society due to its unique flavor.  Increased altitude and sun reflective snow make sunscreen and sunglasses a must to protect delicate skin and eyes.

Bicycle Polo was also created in sun drenched India, where soldiers used the bicycle to hone their equestrian polo skills.  Required equipment includes a bicycle, approved cycling helmet, Bike polo mallet and Bike polo ball.  This makes it more within the financial reach of the average person.  Two teams face each other on a grassy field (safer) with the dimensions 100 x 60 yards.  Each team consists of 4 players who play 4 ten-minute chukkers.  Two minute breaks occur between the 1st and 2nd and the 3rd and 4th chukkers with a 10 minute half time.  As in equine polo left handed players must play right handed for safety reasons.  The U.S. Bicycle Polo Association is the governing body for this unique sport and can connect anyone with local teams at colleges, community centers, registered Bike Clubs and high schools.  The USBPA has a School Equipment Rebate Program to promote this ‘everyman’ sport.  Now this sounds like a sport all members of the family can participate in, ‘fun in the sun’ for everyone!  Don’t forget the sun protection, and players might find sun goggles a smart addition to their equipment list.

Elephant Polo is governed by the World Elephant Polo Association and Nepal is the host of the World Polo Championship.  The World Championship may be held in any of several parks in Nepal.  Tiger Mountain Group and Chivas Regal are the primary supporters of this sport and championship.  Tiger Mountain Group provides rafting tours, trekking tours, safaris and wonderfully unique tree houses and bungalows for your lodging comfort.  Each team consists of 4 players on a field 100 meters by 70 meters with 2 ten-minute chukkers and a 15 minute half time.  Teams change elephants at half time, as well as, goals.  Men and women can play with the only difference being men play one-handed, either left or right and women may play with two.  Each elephant is ridden by a mahout the whole game, who controls the elephant while the players go after the ball.  As many as 12 teams have competed in these championships.  On the last day of play in 2009, the Australian team introduced Bike Polo to this area of the world, much to the delight of spectators.  Teams come from expected countries like Nepal and Thailand but also from unexpected countries like the U.S., Australia, Scotland, Austria and Switzerland.  The Nepal Olympic Committee hopes this sport will be included in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Participants should consider sun protection if they choose to play in this high altitude country.  Sunglasses to protect the eyes should be considered for all spectators and perhaps sun goggles for players.  Spectators should consider parasols and sun hats, as well as, sunscreen or tanning lotion to use during the many days of this tournament.  Elephant polo, how unique and unusual is that? Tour Nepal and visit the World Elephant Polo Championship at the same time.  Did you know that Nepal is the size of Arkansas and birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, known to the world as Buddha? This is the land of Mt. Everest, artistic relics and buildings of past cultures and very friendly people.  From steamy sunny plains to the cold sunny Himalayas you will find much to explore and enjoy.

Though you may not find these sports something you might wish to participate in, perhaps you might consider being a spectator.  Unique and fun!

-Miss Suntan

Want to find out about more under the sun sports?

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