Chukkers for Charity
credit- Daniel Oyvetsky

Chukkers for Charity will take place on Saturday, September 10 marking their 20th Anniversary.  The highlight of the event is the polo match. But if you’ve never attended you might be a little confused by the game.

The signature event returns for its “emerald anniversary” to raise funds for Rochelle Center and Saddle Up! The gates for Chukkers for Charity will open at 1 p.m. for tailgaters and 2 p.m. for patrons. The opening ceremony will be held at 2:45 p.m. with the polo match beginning around 3 p.m. Following the polo match, the Patrons’ Dinner will begin at 6:15 p.m. Purchase your tickets online starting at $20 – $400 for a cabana.

We’ve put together a list of five things to know before attending Chukkers for Charity or any other polo match, thanks to Polo 101. 


1.Why do the horse’s not have manes?
Free flowing manes and tails are a danger in polo because they can become entangled with players’ mallets or with the reins as the rider tries to control his horse. Manes, therefore, are shaved and the ponies’ tails are wrapped or braided to prevent the hazard.

2.Can you use the same horse for an entire game?
No. Polo ponies run the equivalent of one to two miles during a seven-and-a-half-minute chukker, so they must be rested frequently. At the high-goal level, players ideally will have a fresh horse every period although many will “double” on their best ponies. Even at this level, it’s rare but not unheard of for a pony to be played three chukkers in the same game—it happened in the famed International Matches between England and the United States.

3.What is a score called and why do the teams change directions whenever there is one?
Points scored in polo are called goals, which is much more straightforward than trying to explain why polo teams don’t change field directions by periods or halves like other sports. One theory is that the practice of changing after every point (sorry, goal) scored originated in the days when many polo fields ran east-west (they’re usually situated north-south now) and neither team wanted to play for extended periods of time with the sun and/or wind in their faces. It’s a plausible explanation, especially when you consider that in late nineteenth-century periods of play changed every time a goal was scored. We know the practice dates to at least 1873, when England’s Hurlingham Polo Association drew up its polo rules.

4.What are all the people doing out on the field at halftime?
It’s customary at polo matches to invite the public onto the field at halftime to tread in the divots kicked up by the horses. The custom has a practical as well as a public-relations value: the field is repaired for the teams by the time they begin the second half of play. It’s not clear who was the first enterprising club manager to realize he had an abundant and cheap grounds-keeping crew at his disposal, but old-timers will tell you the job used to be done by hired help. In the 1920s, for example, laborers at the polo clubs tapped in the divots after every period with a tool resembling an oversized croquet mallet. Between games, wives of the polo grooms, many of whom were immigrants, could be found on hands and knees cutting dandelions and other weeds from the field.

5.What do they call the opening play in polo?
In hockey, it’s a face-off, in basketball it’s the tip-in, but in polo it’s known as the throw-in. The umpire tosses the ball in between the two teams as they line up parallel to one another. In earlier days, the custom was to place the ball in the middle of the field and have two opposing players charge it from opposite directions. This practice was eventually discontinued, probably because of incidents like the one that occurred in 1888 at Myopia Polo Club in Massachusetts. Living up to the club’s name, the riders charged myopically at the ball and collided head-on, knocking one of them out cold.

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