The Evolution of Polo


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About the Book

Tracing the evolution of polo from its origins in Central Asia to its current manifestation as a professional sport that attracts wealthy sponsors and patrons, this sociological study examines how polo has changed according to the economic and cultural differences of the nations and continents where it is played. One hundred historic and modern photographs are included.

About the Author(s)

A polo player and surgeon, Horace A. Laffaye is on the board of directors of the Museum of Polo and is chairman of the Polo Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. His writings on the game include several books and many articles in magazines in North America, Argentina and England. He divides his time between Connecticut and Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Horace A. Laffaye
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 364
Bibliographic Info: 101 photos (17 in color), appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3814-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5415-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Foreword by Nigel à Brassard      1

Preface      3


1. Folk Games: From the Silk Road to the Manipuri Valleys      5

2. An Ancient Pastime Discovered by Western Eyes      10


3. The European Journey      18

4. The British Carry the Flag      32

5. Polo in India: Conflicts and Harmonies      56

6. The Beginning of the Internationals      65

7. Polo Myths: Billiard Ball, Walking Sticks, and All That      73

8. The British Clubs      78

9. Fashionable Chic: Polo on the Continent      93

10. American Polo Comes of Age      99

11. The Anglo-Argentines: Squires or Gauchos?      108

12. Olympic Interlude      117

Between pages 126 and 127 are eight color plates containing 17 photographs


13. The Mighty Americans      127

14. Of Lords and Ladies      136

15. The Game in the Former Dominions      145

16. The Cup of the Americas      158

17. The Hallowed Grounds: Hurlingham, Meadow Brook and Palermo      176

18. Return from War: The Internationals      182

19. The Rise of Argentina      191

20. England’s Recovery: Gentlemen Players and Hired Assassins      199

21. Polo in America in the Late Twentieth Century      206

22. Bits and Pieces, Strokes and Mallets      214


23. Patrons and the Dawn of Professionalism      224

24. Women’s Polo      231

25. The Game’s Thinkers      243

26. The Evolution of the Rules      255

27. On Umpiring      266

28. The Polo Pony: From Tats to Thoroughbreds      275

29. The State of the Game in the Twenty-First Century      287

Appendix A: The Code of Rules for the Silchar Polo Club, 1863      301

Appendix B: The Field, 20 March 1869, Letter to the Editor      303

Appendix C: The Rules of the Game, as Drafted by Lt. Hartopp on

Mess Paper, 1869

Chapter Notes      307

Bibliography      327

Index      333

Book Reviews & Awards

“books on ‘modern polo’ have been a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the more recent contributions to the genre also happens to be one of the most significant to have surfaced in quite some time…a thoroughly enjoyable and a highly readable book”—PQ International; “a masterful book that will surely take its place in any sporting library as the definitive reference on polo. But it is more than just a work of reference—it also makes for a thoroughly good and interesting read, moving effortlessly from one era of play to another”—; “this splendid book is a praiseworthy history of the development of polo in the modern era”—Journal of Sport History.