These plans are for a full size hitting cage. They were designed by the late Victor King Thompson (1913-2007), a Stanford University professor emeritus of architecture, based on a Mak-Linfoot design. They were given to me by “Uncle Vic”, as he was affectionately known to many, to share with others. Examples of these hitting cages can be seen at the San Francisco Polo Club in Novato, Ca., The Horsepark Cage in Woodside, Ca. and at the El Dorado Polo Club, Indio, California.
The above PDF file is the same design, drawn by Victor K. Thompson, for the Woodside Polo Cage.
Photographs of the Hitting Cage in Horsepark, Woodside, California
DETAILS OF A WOODEN HORSE
Russell Field, a former player at Stanford University, constructed a wooden horse based on the Horsepark design.The following is taken from his website, with his permission, at:
Written by rfield
on May 22, 2012
Prior to the Alumni Polo Tournament in 2011, I decided to build several wooden horses that spectators could play with on the sidelines. Most people have no idea what polo is really like, and while wooden horses leave much to be desired in terms of capturing the essence of the sport, they do provide a pretty good platform for learning good riding position and the mechanics of a polo swing. Wooden horses are frequently used in “hitting cages” – like batting cages, but for polo – and I thought the effect would be pretty much the same if they were out on a open field rather than inside a protective enclosure. Since there is already a wooden horse in the hitting cage at the Horse Park at Woodside’s polo facilities, I decided to use it as a model for generating rough dimensions.
Using these rough dimensions, I created a model in SketchUp showing how the horse would be framed with wood. The completed version is shown below:
And here are some alternate angles:
Here is the internal framing of the horse without the slats on the chest:
And here are several views just showing the framing of the chest:
With this design in hand, I began construction of the first horse. I started by cutting the front and back pieces of the horse from 3/4″ plywood with a scroll saw, and then I cut 2×4′s to length and attached them to the plywood to form the structural portion of the legs. The plywood pieces for the front and the rear were identical except for a slot cut into the top of the front piece to allow the neck assembly to slide in and out. After attaching the 2×4′s for legs, I cut another piece of 3/4″ plywood into a rectangle and mounted it on top of the 2×4′s to connect the front and the back and resist the shear stress when someone mounts the horse. I continued by adding a piece of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) lower down in the horse’s chest to provide additional bracing between the front and the rear sections. Note: there’s no particular reason why LVL is required for this location, it’s just what I had on hand. With the LVL in place, I laid 2×6′s on top of the plywood above the legs (spanning the length of the horse, with the cross section in portrait orientation) to help support the internal structure and guide the horse’s neck into place. After the first 2×6′s were screwed into the plywood end pieces, I added a second row of 2×6′s, directly above the first and again in portrait orientation, and began to work on the neck assembly.
One of the best decisions I made while designing this wooden horse was to separate the neck from the body so that they two pieces can be transported separately and then assembled at a final location. Real horses are big enough that they require a separate trailer for transportation, but with the two piece design the wooden horses fit easily into the bed of a pickup. To make the neck, I used a 2×12 and cut it at a slant so that it would naturally extend upward as it passed through the slot in the plywood at the front of the horse’s body. At this point my design for the horse began to deviate from my initial sketchup model, and instead of using multiple pieces of dimensional lumber and attaching them with truss connector plates, I used more of the 3/4″ plywood to cut the full outline of the horse’s head (with ears!) and screwed them to the 2×12 forming the main body of the neck. Since the angle of neck changes at the transition to the horse’s head, initially there was a gap between the two pieces of plywood at the head with nothing between but empty space. To remedy this problem and make the horse look more natural, I cut a short section of 2×12 and matched the shape to the plywood outlines, screwing it between the two pieces. Using plywood for the outline of the neck ended up with a much nicer appearance than dimensional lumber with truss connector plates (no exterior seams), and it also had other advantages. I had cut the slot in the initial piece of plywood at the front of the horse’s body to exactly accomodate the width of the 2×12, and adding the 3/4″ plywood to either side meant that the plywood sits proud of the slot when the neck met the horse’s body. This helps to support the neck, and prevents it from rotating down even if a rider inadvertently leans too far forward or puts a hand down for support.
As I continued building the exterior framing of the horse’s chest, I decided to further alter the design from the SketchUp model that I had produced earlier. I had initially designed a trapezoidal piece running the length of the horse’s back to help stabilize a saddle and act like the horse’s withers. However, there are significant challenges associated with this method of construction. To create the long triangular pieces in the dimensions I wanted, I had to turn a 4×4 45 degrees so that it was resting on a vertex and then either rip it on a table saw or walk down the length with a skil saw. Unfortunately, even with a fully extended 10″ table saw the blade is fully captive in the 4×4, and the result is that it tends to overheat the blade and overwork the saw. The process would be a simpler with a 14″ table saw, but they are relatively uncommon, and I didn’t have access to one while I was working on this project. Abandoning the trapezoid, I decided instead to use a 2×6 in portrait orientation and cut it with a scroll saw so that it really resembled a horse’s withers.
To install this piece, I laid another 2×6 (cross section in landscape orientation) across the top of the 2×6′s that I had used to frame the opening for the neck assembly, and then attached my withers piece in the center (I had previously measured the combination of all of my 2×6′s so that the withers piece would be flush with the top of the horse’s back). Once this was accomplished, I ripped 2×4′s on a table saw using a 10 degree angle on the blade so that the curvature of the pieces would match the curvature of the plywood ends that I had cut at the very beginning. Once these pieces were firmly installed, all that remaining was to add in a few more 2×4′s by the horse’s belly so that balls and other supplies could be stored in the horse’s chest without falling out.
Below are several photos of the horse in use on the sidelines of the Stanford Alumni Polo Tournament in 2011 and 2012. It was popular with adults, but much more so with the younger kids.
This is a design posted by G.R.Pocock on PoloGringo.com
VARIATIONS OF THE FLOOR OF THE HITTING CAGE
ABOVE, LOOK AT THE SIMPLE, LESS EXPENSIVE DESIGN OF THE FLOOR WHICH DIRECTS THE BALL TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT SIDE OF THE HORSE
BELOW ARE OTHER ADAPTATIONS
FOR EXAMPLE, TRY A BASEBALL BATTING CAGE
OR USE A PORTABLE GOLF BOOM ROOM AS YOUR CAGE
ONE MORE DESIGN
The Travelling Hitting Cage
This is a system devloped by Kit Collins, which includes a travelling cage, a mechanical horse, lessons and video taping. You can find more information at:
or call Kit Collins at telephone number +1-513-225-4262
The following are photos of wooden horses and their location in the hitting cage. The designs differ, but your carpenter can make the modifications you might deem best fitted for your personal use.
MY FAVORITE WOODEN HORSE
This was a wooden horse located somewhere in Turkey near the Dardanelles at about 1184 BC. It was somewhat charred due to vandalism by some visiting Greek rowdies, who reportedly caused considerable property damage and numerous injuries to the townfolk. The incident was reported by Homer in his extended article, The Iliad.
Design of a Wooden Horse
This is a design sent to me from Patrik Axèn
above photos courtesy of Diego Maria Llaneza. The wooden horses are called TROYA – Caballos de Madera, and are produced for the Anglo Argentine Polo Project http://www.angloargentinepolo.com.ar/
Hello i am a polo teacher in Bogotá Colombia , can you posea send me a diagram about a polo cage. Thank you.
If you go to the page entitled “Hitting Cage Design” you will see the diagram for a cage. The measurements are in inches and feet. Clicking on the first blue print by Vic Thompson will enlarge the drawing. In addition, by scrolling down the page, you can find variations. Using these, a carpenter could construct a reasonable replica of any of these designs.
I hope this helps you.
All the best,