Polo in Barbados has a great international attraction for both young and old alike and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon, maybe an evening too. Take a picnic or purchase drinks and refreshments at the match. Soak up the atmosphere and excitement of the game. Experience exhilarating matches played by teams from around the world. Barbados polo provides a fantastic setting for international teams such as England, Jamaica, Italy and Ireland and many more.
Polo first came to the island in the late 1800s, having originated in Persia, introduced by cavalry men from the British army. In those days horses played a large part in the day to day running of Plantation houses, and originally it was those horses that were trained and used for polo games. The climate in Barbados is ideally suited to playing polo with year round sunshine and lush grass and the game grew in popularity. A club was founded by the cavalry and wealthy landlords, and polo rules were introduced. This polo club ran until 1929 when polo was suspended for about 10 years.
In 1939, at The Garrison Savannah (just south of Bridgetown) The Barbados Polo Club was established and in 1965 moved to Holders Hill. Polo has been a popular sport and going concern in Barbados ever since.
Today the island boasts several world class polo venues in St James, St Thomas and St Michael, some offer tuition. The polo season in Barbados runs from January to May (a perfect time of year for a Barbados holiday) and there are lots of visiting teams from abroad. There are strong ties with the UK and the Cheshire Polo Team regularly compete. The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match is held in Barbados every year (women versus men) and is always popular. For more information about schedules, lessons and more, contact The Barbados Polo Club based at Holders Hill in the parish of St James, close to Holetown. (There is also a great farmers market held on the polo field every Sunday).
If you’re a polo novice, here are some pointers about the game.
- The average polo field is about to 300 yards long by 160 yards wide.
- A game usually consists of 4 short periods of timed play called chukka’s each lasting 7 minutes.
- There are four players per side and two umpires.
- The players each have a number on their shirt indicating their position in play; a No.3 or 4 usually denotes the best player.
- The ball was traditionally made of wood but now a composite resin is used, it is approximately 3¹/2″ in diameter.
- A player needs to hit the ball with a mallet which is just over four and a half feet in length the shaft can be bamboo with a wooden head, usually referred to as a ‘cigar’ which is made of an Argentine hardwood called ‘Tipuana Blanca’.
- A player needs to be capable of a spirited ride as often the ponies will be at full gallop before they hit the ball. This requires excellent horse control and a keen eye as the ball can reach speeds of up to 190mph.
- The object of the game is to score goals at the opposing teams end of the field.
- After each chukka fresh ponies are used.
- During a break in play it’s a great tradition that spectators go on to the field and trample the diverts back down, which is even more fun if you’re wearing high heels!
Polo in Barbados is a great tradition and spectators are always welcome. It’s a fabulous day out for all the family so make sure you include it in your holiday itinerary. The polo season runs from January until May, the perfect time to visit. Contact Paradise Rentals for the best selection of villas and apartments.