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Polo Under the Big Sky

Polo “The Cowboy Way,” is played across Montana each summer from Missoula to Billings and Great Falls to Bozeman. Now it might not look like white pants and English saddles, but these western horsemen sure have a lot of fun when they get together to battle over the ball. The game is played in rodeo style arenas with two five player teams. Each player is armed with a mallet, and the object is to knock an inflatable rubber ball through the other team’s goal. All that is needed is a horse, a mallet, the ability to ride, and the love of adventure.

Players use western tack, helmets with face guards, and padded chaps. Competition consists of two teams on the field, a player from each team in each of the five zones. The 15 minute periods are called chukkers— four of which constitutes the game. Teams change goal directions at the beginning of each chukker, and the ball changes possession after a score. A score is made when the ball is whacked through the opposing team’s goal. If a score is made from within the first zone, it counts as one point, if made from the second zone, two points, and if made from the center zone, three points. Each game is run by two referees, who ensure the rules are followed and determine if a score counts for one or more points. In addition, there is one goal spotter at each end of the field who informs the referees when the ball goes through the goalposts. Other game officials consist of a scorekeeper, timekeepers, and an announcer to call the play-by-play.

If you like beautiful horses and things western, and want to see them at their best, bring your lawn chair, pull up some shade, and enjoy the
next Montana Cowboy Polo match. For more information call (406) 587-5088.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”


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