', also called ' (, literally "duck game"), is a game played on horseback that combines elements from polo
. It is the national sport of Argentina
' is Spanish for "duck
", as early games used a live duck inside a basket instead of a ball. Accounts of early versions of ''pato'' have been written since 1610.
The playing field would often stretch the distance between neighboring ' (ranches). The first team to reach its own ' (ranch house) with the duck would be declared the winner.
' was banned several times during its history because of the violence—not only to the duck; many gaucho
s were trampled underfoot, and many more lost their lives in knife fights started in the heat of the game. In 1796, a Catholic priest insisted that ' players who died in such a way should be denied Christian burial. Government ordinances forbidding the practice of ' were common throughout the 19th century.
During the 1930s, ' was regulated through the efforts of ranch owner Alberto del Castillo Posse, who drafted a set of rules inspired by modern polo
. The game gained legitimacy, to the point that President Juan Perón
declared ' to be Argentina's national game in 1953.
In modern ', two four-member teams
riding on horse
s fight for possession of a ball which has six conveniently-sized handles, and score by throwing the ball through a vertically positioned ring (as opposed to the horizontal rim used in basketball). The rings have a 100 cm (3.3 ft) diameter, and are located atop 240 cm (7.9 ft) high poles. A closed net, extending for 140 cm (4.6 ft), holds the ball after goals are scored.
The winner is the team with most goals scored after regulation time (six 8-minute "periods").
The dimensions of the field are: length 180 to 220 m (196.9 to 240.6 yd), width 80 to 90 m (87 to 98 yd). The ball is made of leather, with an inflated rubber chamber and six leather handles. Its diameter is 40 cm (15.7 in) handle-to-handle and its weight is 1050 to 1250 g (2.3 to 2.8 lbs).
The player that has control of the ' (i.e. holds the ball by a handle) must ride with his right arm outstretched, offering the ' so rival players have a chance of tugging the ' and stealing it. Not extending the arm while riding with the ' is an offense called ' (refusal).
During the tug itself, or ', both players must stand on the stirrup
s and avoid sitting on the saddle
, while the hand not involved in the tugging must hold the rein
s. The tug is usually the most exciting part of the game.
' is played competitively and also by amateurs, mostly in weekend fairs which usually include ' (Argentine rodeo). Its status as the national game of Argentina has been challenged by association football
, which is much more widespread. While virtually the entire population of the country are avid football fans and players, it is estimated that 90% of Argentines have not seen a ' match, and there are only a few thousand players of the game.
In light of this, a bill was introduced in the Argentine legislature in 2010 to elevate football to the status of national sport and reduce ' to a traditional sport.
Defenders of ''s official status point out that it is a completely indigenous game, while football was imported.
' is similar to the game of horseball
played in France
, and other countries.
File:Throwing in for the goal.jpg
External linksFederación Argentina de Pato y Horseball
Category:Equestrian team sports
Category:National symbols of Argentina
Category:Sport in Argentina
Category:Sports originating in Argentina