All you need to know about polocrosse – and why you should get involved

People playing polocrosse
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If you fancy a new challenge with your horse, why not give polocrosse a go? It’s fast paced, fun and affordable.

We spoke to Becky Davies from Arden Polocrosse Club to find out more about the sport and how you can get involved.

What exactly is polocrosse?

Exhilarating and hugely sociable, polocrosse is a mix between lacrosse, polo and rugby. If you’re looking for a sport with horses, racquet skills and teamwork – plus lots of excitement – this could be the game for you!

Originally dating back to the 1930s, it is now becoming a popular sport for those looking to try something a bit different. As in polo, polocrosse is normally played on a grass pitch and each game is divided into several chukkas. However, unlike polo, players can only ride one horse each at a tournament.

What are the basic rules?

A team is made up of six players, but there are only three players from each team on the pitch at once. They play alternate chukkas, up to eight minutes long.

The pitch is split in to three areas: two goal scoring areas – which only the number one (attack) and number three (defence) players can go into – and a midfield, which every player can go into. The ball is picked up with a racquet, carried and passed to the number one, who then has to find a way passed the other team’s number three to score. The aim of the game is to score as many goals as possible by throwing the ball between the posts.

Who can play polocrosse?

Polocrosse is open to anybody of any age, though there are certain ‘grades’ available to everyone to make sure you play with other people of similar ages and abilities. We have players as young as six coming through – I’d hate to estimate our eldest player, but some people have been around as long as anyone can remember!

How fit do you need be?

As with any sport, the fitter you are the easier you will find the game. Top-level players tend to invest time in exercises such as pilates rather than cardio exercises, as riding every day keeps you fit enough. Core strength is very important when riding at speed, controlling your horse and undertaking intricate stick work.

What level of riding do you need to take part?

People of all abilities can play polocrosse. It requires a mixture of stick and ball skills, horsemanship and tactical knowledge. Most players are stronger in some areas than others, making it an accessible sport. Some polocrosse players have only learnt to ride in order to play the game.

What type of horse do you need?

Horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes can play polocrosse, and most new players learn on the horse they already have. At the top level, the most common types of horses are Thoroughbreds, stock horses and polo ponies. Polocrosse is commonly known as ‘the King of one horse sports’ as players can only use one horse throughout a tournament. Therefore, players don’t need to own endless numbers of horses to play.

What equipment is needed?

The rider needs a recognised protective helmet (Pony Club standards), a racquet, sponge rubber ball and shirts or tabards numbered 1, 2 and 3, which indicate the position of the player. The number should be clearly visible on the back of the shirt, and on the sleeve if desired. For tournaments, teams should be in matching colours and wear matching tabards, white jeans or jodphurs and riding boots. There is a further option to wear knee pads if the rider wishes.

The horse will need a GP saddle or a stock/western saddle, a fitted breastplate, a numnah or saddle cloth and a surcingle/over-girth. Properly fitting polo bandages or cross-country boots and over-reach boots are compulsory both in front and behind.

When is the polocrosse season?

The grass season begins in May and ends in September, with tournaments running throughout all of the UK. In the last few years the season has been expanded to include a winter and spring arena league, which runs from October to April. So you can play all year round.

Is it expensive?

In relation to other Equestrian sports – no! A full weekend tournament costs an average of £60 per adult. This includes three games, parking for your lorry/trailer, penning for your horses, and a meal and entertainment on Saturday night.

How can I get started?

To get involved with polocrosse, most people either start through a local club or through the Pony Club. The UKPA (UK Polocrosse Association) and the Pony Club can put people in contact with local clubs and branches/centres who are already established with polocrosse. There are currently sixteen clubs registered with the UKPA and eleven clubs registered with the Irish Polocrosse Association and they are always willing to welcome new members.

You can find out more about polocrosse and see the exciting game in action by watching Rudall’s Round-Up: Polocrosse on Monday 14 August at 8.30pm on Sky 253. If you don’t have Sky you can watch online via H&C Play or Amazon Video