Terms and Penalties

What is a chukker???

Play commences when the mounted umpire bowls the ball between the players who line up opposite each other in the center field. The game consists of six 7 minute periods called "chukkers" during which players may change mounts to give them a rest. There is a four-minute interval between chukkers and a ten to fifteen minute halftime. Play is continuous. The object is to score goals by hitting the ball between the goal posts, no matter how high in the air. There are two mounted umpires who officiate the game while a referee on the sidelines makes all the final decisions concerning penalties or infractions of the rules,


Any time the ball crosses the goal line it is considered a goal, regardless of whether a horse or a mallet cause the ball to go through. The teams change sides after a goal is scored to minimize any wind advantage which may exist.


A player is permitted to ride into another player in order 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 player must spoil another player's shot by putting his mallet in the way of the striking player. A cross hook occurs when a player reaches over his opponent's mount in an attempt to hook; this is considered a foul.


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

Near Side

The left-hand side of a horse

Off Side

The right-hand side of a horse


The ball is hit under the horse's neck from either side.


Hitting the ball behind and across the horse's rump

Out of Bounds

When the 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. No timeout is allowed for an out of bounds ball.


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. Severe foul made near goal - An automatic goal plus penalty # 3 is awarded.

?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 infraction or from midfield

?6. Safety - see below


Penalty # 6 - When a defending player has the ball across his own backline, the other team is awarded a free hit 60 yards from the backline with the ball placed at the same distance from the sideline as where it went out.


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.

Sudden Death

If the score is tied at the end of the final chukker, there is a five minute break to allow the players to catch their breath and change to a fresh mount before beginning a sudden death chukker. The first team to score wins the match.