By Kerstie Allen
This month I’d like to give a big shout out to my fellow teammates of the American Polocrosse Association U.S.A. World Cup team as they head to South Africa in July to represent the United States against five other countries in the 2015 Polocrosse World Cup.
Polocrosse is “the king of one-horse sports.” It’s a sport close to my heart that I started playing in Australia, where polocrosse was originated. I’ve traveled the world playing polocrosse but the highlight of my career was representing the U.S.A. on the 2011 World Cup team. We played several international test matches around the United States and even took part in a demonstration at the World Equestrian Games.
Polocrosse is a super-fun family sport that all ages and abilities of both horse and rider can compete in as a team and play together. Polocrosse is a combination of polo, arena polo and lacrosse on horseback. Only one horse is allowed per player per weekend tournament.
Each team consists of six players, which are split into two groups of three players called sections. International polocrosse tournaments play six chukkas per game, also like polo, but each player/section plays one chukka then the other section of the same team plays and vice versa, giving the player and their horse time to recuperate after their six-minute chukka. Overall, each section will play three six-minute chukkas per game. Polocrosse is played on a smaller, preferably grass field, similar to polo, that’s 60 by 160 yards with three separate areas. Goal posts are the same as in polo and are at each end of the field.
Like polo, each player has a particular position but in polocrosse only the number one can shoot a goal and the defending team number three can defend and play in the end zones that are 30 yards long from the goal posts. The number twos play in the center, helping to assist with passes and block opponents.
Polocrosse rackets are comparable to polo mallets with a racket head and a net to scoop, throw, catch and carry the ball. The ball is a 4-inch rubber ball — bigger than a polo ball but smaller than an arena ball — and bounces to allow for players to easily catch during the game.
Any saddle can be used but the Aussi stock saddle is probably the favorite as it helps keep you in the saddle while you reach and turn in attempt to gain possession of the elusive bouncing ball. To start the game, we line up in the center of the field, same as polo, and one of the two umpires will throw the ball in. You can catch, hit or throw the ball — whatever it takes to get it to the number one in your team’s direction for them to score. The aim of the game is to score the most goals to win your game, make it to the Sunday finals and hopefully win the tournament.
Polocrosse is a great, safe and affordable way for equestrian teenagers and adults to travel and visit other states and countries, as weekend tournaments take place in all corners of the world and are always accepting of new and interested players and fans. For a weekend fee, you can bring or borrow a horse, camp out, enjoy playing some polocrosse and make new friends or just show up and cheer for your new-found friends. From lead line, masters and beginners to the advanced players of the A grade, everyone has a moment to shine. Polocrosse is definitely worth a try!
Good luck to Team U.S.A. in the 2015 Polocrosse World Cup! For more information on polocrosse, visit www.americanpolocrosse.org.