Polo Week: Side-saddle Polo?

“there has been a craze for what I may term popular polo, and in 1898 I drew up a set of rules for ladies’ polo, which were published in the July number of the Ladies’ Field for that year. These rules were a modification of the Hurlingham Club Rules, and the principal alterations which I suggested related to Rules 7, 8, and 17. I think that my simplest plan would be to quote these rules, giving after each rule my suggested amendment, which should apply not only to ladies, but also to hunting men whose financial capabilities do not permit of them entering the ranks of first-class polo players. … as late as 1898, during the summer of which year I was engaged on the staff of the Polo Magazine, my editor, Captain F. Herbert, late of the 9th Lancers, laughed at me for suggesting ladies’ polo. I am afraid that his vision did not extend beyond the aristocratic clubs.”

A Century of English Foxhunting by George F Underhill (1900). I can only guess that this was to be played in a very slow and genteel fashion…

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

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  1. I can’t even imagine! Would they still hold the mallet on the near side (right hand)? That would be an upper body twist that would leave my yoga class in awe! Sorry for the obsessive commenting on your polo posts- but I love them! Corinna

  2. Comment away! I can’t imagine it either. I know that there were women who were absolute nutters and did all kinds of crazy things sidesaddle, but I just can’t wrap my brain round polo.

  3. Um, right hand is the off side. :) As an aside rider, but someone who has had all of one polo lesson, I can see the difficulty of the nearside swings. Certainly the galloping and tight pivots aren’t much of an issue if you already know how to ride aside.

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve seen several period images of women playing polo aside, and read an account or two of men v. women games, but not altered rules. Will have to look this up in full!

  4. Hello Jeannie! I’d love to see the old images, if you have a link or a scan. Writing the book turned me into an amateur side-saddle nerd. I’ve had one lesson so far, and was pretty hooked. :)

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