About Snow Polo

The Snow Polo Game

There are usually four periods (Chukkas) of between five minutes and 30 seconed to seven minutes depending on the outside playing conditions. There are two or three players in each team. Depending on the size of the arena the team play with two or three players.  There is no “offside” rule. The rules are common sense based on a player having the “right of way” in order to eliminate danger. Depending on the size of the arena the goal posts are positioned in five meters distance to the arena boundaries. In this case the game – similar to ice hockey –  continues behind the goal posts. In this case the game is stopped when the ball is played from behind through the goal posts from a player.

In case the snow arena is not longer then 60 meters, the goal posts are positioned at the arena boundaries. Then the „ice hockey“ rule is not applicable. One mounted PIPA umpire runs the game. The official PIPA tournament director is responsible for the entire tournament.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-03-01 um 11.45.17

The team that scores the most goals wins. Behinds do not count. The umpires will award penalties depending upon the severity of the infringement. There are verying degrees of penalties:

Penalty I A goal is signalled and a throw-in occurs 10 yards out from the penalized team’s goal mouth
Penalty II 30 yards free hit
Penalty III 40 yards free hit
Penalty IV 60 yards free hit
Penalty V(a) A free hit on the spot
Penalty V(b) A free hit from the middle of the ground

The essence of the game is team work.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-03-01 um 11.45.33


The Rules Explained


All players must have an Arena handicap of 0 to 5. The handicap of the team is the sum total rating of its players, and in handicap matches the team with the higher handicap gives the difference in ratings to the other team. The PIPA Snow Polo Tour teams therefore must have been 0 to 10 goals for events with two players per team and for events with three players per team of 0 to 15. This means the PIPA Snow Polo Tour is played in the Medium to High Goal level.


The best polo ponies are of thoroughbred blood whose main qualities are heart, speed wind, stamina and the ability to accelerate, stop and turn quickly, and whose temperament is amenable to the rigors of the game.

There is no height limit for the horses, although most are between 15 and 15.3 hands. The age of a pony is generally between 5 and 15 years. Players concede the pony accounts for up to 80% of their game.

Dictionary of Terms


A player is permitted to ride into another player so as to spoil his shot. The angle of the collision must be slight causing no more than a jar. The faster the horse travels, the smaller the angle must be. A good bump can shake your dentures loose.


The sideboards will not exceed 28 centimetres high: the boards are positioned along the sidelines only.


Also called a period. There are six chukkas in a polo game (four in arena polo & low goal polo) each lasting 7 minutes plus up to 30 seconds in overtime. If, during the 30 seconds, the ball hits the sideboards or goes out of bounds, or if the umpire blows his whistle, the chukka is over. There is no overtime at the end of the sixth chukka unless the score is tied, at which time a seventh chukka will be played until the first goal is scored. A player returns to each chukka on a different horse. Although he may rest one for a chukka or two and play him again.


Length – max 275 metres: min 230 metres

Width – max 180 metres unboarded & 150 metres boarded

Goal Posts

The goal posts, which are collapsible on severe impact, are 7.3 metres apart and 3 metres high.


Any time a ball crosses the line between the goal posts, it is considered a goal regardless of whether a horse or a mallet cause the ball to go through. In order to equalize turf and wind conditions, the teams change ends after every goal scored.


All registered players are rated on a scale of -2 to 10 (the higher the better). Although the word “goal” is often used after the digit, it bears no relation to the number of goals a player might score – only to his ability. The handicap of the team is the sum total rating of its players and in handicap matches the team with the higher handicap gives the difference in ratings to the other team. For example, a 6-goal team will give two goals to a 4-goal team.


A player spoils another’s shot by putting his mallet in the way of a striking player. A cross hook occurs where the player reaches over his opponent’s mount in an attempt to hook; this is considered a foul.


Should a team, in an offensive drive, hit the ball across the opponent’s backline, the defending team resumes the game with a free hit from their backline. No time is allowed for knock-ins.


Also known as a “stick”. The shaft is made from a bamboo shoot and the head from either the bamboo root or a hard wood such as maple. These vary in length from 48 to 54 inches and are very flexible in comparison to a golf club or a hockey stick.

Near Side

The left-hand of the horse.

Neck Shot

A ball that is hit under the horse’s neck from either side.

Off Side

The right hand side of the horse.

Out of Bounds

When a ball crosses the sidelines or goes over the sideboards, it is considered out of bounds and the umpire throws in another ball between the two teams at that point. No time-out is allowed for an out of bounds ball.


Each of the four team members plays a distinctly different position. Since polo is such a fluid game, the players may momentarily change positions, but will try to return to their initial assignment. Here’s an overview of the players:

No 1 The most forward offensive player
No 2 Just as offensive as No 1 but plays deeper and works harder
No 3 The pivot player between offence and defence and tries to turn all plays to offence
No 4 The Back is a defensive player whose role is principally to protect the goal

Ride Off

This occurs when two riders make contact and attempt to push each other off the line of the ball so as to prevent the other from striking. The horses are the ones intended to do the pushing, although a player may use his body but not his elbows.

These dictionary terms are taken from the Victorian Polo Association.