Frequently Asked Questions

SARATOGA POLO Frequently Asked Questions...

Dress Code Suggestions


While Saratoga Polo has no set dress code in effect, patrons of our VIP area and clubhouse typically take care to choose outfits that would not be out of place at other traditional Saratoga summer venues, such as the race track or ballet. 


While some gentlemen prefer to follow a more formal, suit and tie approach to clubhouse wear, this is not always necessary and an open collar look is also a safe bet. 

A summer casual appearance, almost a sportier version of business casual, is a time-honored approach to polo attire.  Think khakis (pants or shorts will do), button downs, and of course, you can never go wrong in a polo shirt! 


For the ladies, styles may range from the daring to the elegant.  With matches starting right after work, office attire such as a suit or skirt and blouse combo is not out of place.  Other women prefer to view polo as the start of a night out on the town.  A cocktail dress or a favorite dancing outfit are always surefire bets.  


In contrast to the VIP and clubhouse areas, the general admission area of Saratoga Polo is the perfect way to enjoy the speed and intensity of polo in a more relaxed setting with your family, friends and even the dog.  The atmosphere is not unlike that of a summer family gathering or weekend cookout, so feel free to dress accordingly. 

There are many different ways to get dressed up for a polo match, but remember; there are no set rules and the most important thing is to enjoy yourself! 

So...You have arrived at the Whitney Field 

—Here are some Do’s & Don’ts — 

Do: Pick a team or favorite player and cheer them on loudly. 

Do: Keep your eye on the ball and horses; both travel at high speeds. Stay back from sideboards & end lines; play continues outside those boundaries. 

Do: Keep children close at hand. 

Do: Keep pets on a leash. 

Do: Stroll out on the field during half time, meet your friends, neighbors and replace divots. 

Do: Ask questions of officials, players and staff. 

Do: Attend trophy presentations—applaud the teams, get an autograph or photograph. 

Don’t: Run onto field or after a polo ball. 

Don’t: Forget a hat, sunscreen or insect repellant. 

Don’t: Forget to have fun & enjoy the game. 

Don’t: Leave your litter behind. 

Do: Feel free to bring a picnic. This applies to the General Admission (tailgate) side. No outside food and beverage in the Clubhouse Lawn and Bleacher section.

Don’t: Bring your own alcoholic beverages due to NYS liquor laws. 

Do: Come back and join us again and thanks for coming out to Saratoga Polo! 

Do: Check for field conditions by calling  518-584-8108 or visit saratogapolo.com 


Off Side: The right-hand side of a horse. 

Out of Bounds: When a ball crosses the sideline 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. 

Penalty: A free hit toward the goal from a set distance. 

The severity of the foul committed determines what penalty will be awarded. The range is as follows: 

1) An automatic goal

2) A free hit from 30 yards to an undefended goal

3) A free hit from 40 yards to an undefended goal

4) A free hit from 60 yards to a defended goal 

5) A free hit from the point of the infraction or from midfield

Ponies: The best polo ponies are of the 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. Bandages or boots for support and protection are normally used. 


Throw-In: A chukker begins and many plays resume with the umpire bowling the ball between the two ready teams. 

Time-Out: An umpire calls time-out when a foul is committed, an accident occurs or at his own discretion. A player may only call time-out if he has broken tack or is injured. No time-out is allowed for changing horses or replacing a broken mallet, although a player may do so at any time. 

Umpires: Two mounted umpires (one for each side of the field) consult each other after each infringement and impose a penalty only if they agree. If they do not agree they ride to the sidelines to confer with the third man, known as the referee.  

Positions: 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 and return to their initial assignment. No. 1 is the most forward offensive player. No. 2 is just as offensive but plays deeper and works harder. No. 3 is the pivot player between offense and defense and tries to turn all plays to offense. No. 4 or the back is the 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. 

Safety: Penalty No. 6. When a defending player hits the ball across his own backline, the other is awarded a free hit 60 yards from the backline with the ball placed at the same distance from the sideline as when it went out. 

Sideboards:  nine- to eleven-inch board along the sidelines only. Sideboards are optional. 

Sudden Death: In the event of a tie score at the end of the final chukker, there will be a five minute intermission to allow the players to catch their breath and change to a fresh mount before beginning a “sudden death” chukker in which the first team to score wins the match. 

Tailshot: Hitting the ball behind and across the horse’s rump. 

Third Man: The referee sitting at the sidelines. If and when the two umpires on the field are in disagreement, the third man makes the final decision. 

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

Chukker: Also called a period. There are six chukkers in a polo game (four in the Arena Polo), each lasting 7 minutes. At the end of the 6-and-a-half minutes of elapsed time, a bell will sound to indicate thirty seconds remain in the period. At the end of seven minutes of elapsed time, a horn will sound to terminate the period. If the score is tied at the end of last period of play, the game shall be resumed in overtime periods, known as sudden death (see above). 

Field: The ground is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide (9 acres). The goalposts, which collapse on severe impact, are 8 yards apart. 

Goal: When a ball crosses the line between the goalposts, it is considered a goal regardless of whether a horse or mallet causes the ball to go through. In order to equalize wind and turf conditions, the teams change sides after every goal scored. 

Handicap: All registered players are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 (the highest 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. 

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

Knock-In: 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-out is allowed for knock-in.

Mallet: 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 hockey stick. 

Near Side: The left hand side of a horse. 

Neck Shot: A ball, which is hit under the horse’s neck from either side. 80 percent of their game.

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