Pato also called “juego del pato” is the national sport of Argentina since 1953. It is a game played on horseback and is a combination of basketball and polo. Pato is a Spanish word for a duck as originally the game was played using live duck instead of a ball to make a goal. The early versions of the sport were written since 1610. Pato was regulated during the 1930s through the efforts of Alberto del Castillo Posse, a ranch owner who drafted a set of rules similar with those of modern polo. Pato is very similar to the sport of horseball played in France, Portugal and some other countries.
The playing field of pato is around 180-220m long and 80-90m wide. The goal rings are 100cm in diameter are located at the top of 240cm high poles. A net closed from the other end and extending for 140cm hold attached to the ring holds the ball after goals are scored. The ball used is made of leather with six leather handles and an inflated rubber chamber and is 40cm in diameter.
The game is competed between two teams of four players each riding on horses.
The game consists of six 8-minute periods after which the team with most goals scored is declared the winner.
The player holding the pato during the game must ride with his/her right arm outstretched so that the rival players have a chance to steal it from him/her. Not extending the arm at the time of riding is an offense known as negada (refusal).
During the tug known as cinchada, both players have to stand on the stirrups and must avoid sitting on the saddle and the hand not involved in the tugging holds the reins.