Last updated
A game of pato in Monte Hermoso, Argentina.
Highest governing body Federación Argentina de Pato y Horseball (Argentine Federation of Pato and Horseball)
NicknamesEl deporte nacional ("The national sport") [1]
First played1610, Argentina [2]
Registered playersYes
Team members4 per team
Mixed-sex No
Type Equestrian, ball game, team sport, outdoor
Equipment Ball
VenueField (grass)
Country or region Argentina
Olympic No
Paralympic No

Pato, also called juego del pato (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈxweɣo ðel ˈpato] , literally "duck game"), is a game played on horseback that combines elements from polo and basketball. It is the national sport of Argentina since 1953. [1]

Pato is Spanish for "duck", as early games used a live duck inside a basket instead of a ball. [3] Accounts of early versions of pato have been written since 1610. [2] The playing field would often stretch the distance between neighboring estancias (ranches). The first team to reach its own casco (ranch house) with the duck would be declared the winner.

Pato was banned several times during its history because of the violencenot only to the duck; many gauchos 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 pato players who died in such a way should be denied Christian burial. Government ordinances forbidding the practice of pato were common throughout the 19th century.

During the 1930s, pato 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 pato to be Argentina's national game in 1953. [4]

In modern pato, two four-member teams [5] riding on horses 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 pato (i.e. holds the ball by a handle) must ride with his right arm outstretched, offering the pato so rival players have a chance of tugging the pato and stealing it. Not extending the arm while riding with the pato is an offense called negada (refusal).

During the tug itself, or cinchada, both players must stand on the stirrups and avoid sitting on the saddle, while the hand not involved in the tugging must hold the reins. The tug is usually the most exciting part of the game.

Pato is played competitively and also by amateurs, mostly in weekend fairs which usually include doma (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 pato match, and there are only a few thousand players of the game. [4] 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 pato to a traditional sport. [4] Defenders of pato's official status point out that it is a completely indigenous game, while football was imported.

Pato is similar to the game of horseball played in France, Portugal, and other countries.

Related Research Articles

Gaucho Skilled horseman in South America

A gaucho or gaúcho is a skilled horseman, reputed to be brave and unruly. The figure of the gaucho is a folk symbol of Argentina, Uruguay, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and the south of Chilean Patagonia. Gauchos became greatly admired and renowned in legend, folklore, and literature and became an important part of their regional cultural tradition. Beginning late in the 19th century, after the heyday of the gauchos, they were celebrated by South American writers.

Basque Country national football team Sports team in Spain

The Basque Country representative football team represents the Basque Country in football. It selects players from the Basque Country autonomous community, Navarre and the French Basque Country and is organised by the Basque Football Federation. It is not affiliated with FIFA or UEFA and therefore only allowed to play friendly matches against FIFA or non-FIFA affiliated teams.

Sport in Argentina

The practice of sports in Argentina is varied due to the population's diverse European origins and the mostly mild climate. Association football is the most popular discipline and other sports played both professionally and recreatively athletics, auto racing, basketball, boxing, cycling, field hockey, fishing, golf, handball, mountaineering, padel tennis, polo, roller hockey, rowing, rugby union, sailing, skiing, swimming, tennis, and volleyball. Argentine achievements can be found in team sports such as association football, basketball, field hockey and rugby union, and individual sports such as boxing, golf, tennis and rowing. Pato, the national sport, is not very popular.

Horseball Sport

Horseball is a sport played on horseback where a ball is handled and goals are scored by shooting it through a hoop with a diameter of 1m. The sport is a combination of polo, rugby, netball, and basketball. It is one of the ten disciplines officially recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

Wílmer López Costa Rican footballer

Wilmer López Arguedas is a retired Costa Rican footballer.

Luis García Conde is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a goalkeeper.

Pelota mixteca

Pelota mixteca is a team sport similar to a net-less tennis game. The players wear sturdy, elaborately decorated gloves affixed to a heavy flat striking surface, using them to strike a small solid ball. The game has roots extending back hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years.

Argentina national under-23 football team National association football team

The Argentina Olympic football team represents Argentina in international football competitions during Olympic Games and Pan American Games. The selection is limited to players under the age of 23, except three overage players. The team is controlled by the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

Marc Mateu Sanjuán is a Spanish footballer who plays for SD Huesca. Mainly a central midfielder, he can also play as a winger.

Francisco Javier Muñoz Pérez is a 5-a-side football player from Spain.

José López Ramírez is a 5-a-side football player from Spain.

José Luis Giera Tejuelo is a 5-a-side football player from Spain.

Youssef El Haddaqui Rabil, commonly known as Youssef El Haddaqui, is a 5-a-side football player from Spain.

Alfredo Cuadrado Freire, commonly known as Alfredo Cuadrado, is a 5-a-side football player from Spain.

Francisco Sánchez Lara Spanish wheelchair basketball player

Francisco Javier Sánchez Lara is a Spanish wheelchair basketball player. He represented Spain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics as a member of Spain men's national team.

Francesc Tur Blanch is a wheelchair tennis player from Spain. He has competed in the men's single and doubles events representing Spain at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Paralympics. His top international singles world ranking was 19th, a rank he held in August 2010.

The 2015 Argentine Primera División or Torneo de Primera División 2015 "Julio H. Grondona" was the 125th season of top-flight professional football in Argentina. The season began on February 13 and ended on December 6. Thirty teams competed in the league, twenty returning from the 2014 Torneo de Transición and ten promoted from the 2014 Primera B Nacional. No teams were relegated to the Primera B Nacional Championship in the previous tournament.

Denil Maldonado Honduran footballer

Denil Omar Maldonado Munguía is a Honduran professional footballer who plays as a defender for Motagua. He also represents the Honduras national team.

The men's football tournament at the 2019 Pan American Games will be held in Lima from 29 July to 10 August 2019. The eight teams involved in the tournament were required to register a squad of 18 players, including two goalkeepers.

Victoire Cogevina Reynal Argentine businesswoman

Victoire Cogevina Reynal is an American-born Greek–Argentine businesswoman set on democratizing soccer accessibility through software technology. She co-founded Gloria, a start-up that counts itself in the 2% of Silicon Valley companies led by women. During her professional career, she has been speaker in many conferences about women, technology and sport.


  1. 1 2 "Argentina Decree Nº 17468 of 16/09/1953". Global Legal Information Network. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2012. Decree 17468 of 9/16/1953 decrees that the national sport or game shall be the one known as 'El Pato', as developed from an old game engaged in by the gauchos, and so truly Argentinean in origin.
  2. 1 2 "Pato, Argentina's national sport". Secretariat of Public Communication, Presidency of the Nation. 18 November 2008. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2012. In 1610, thirty years after Buenos Aires' second foundation and two hundred years before the May Revolution, a document drafted by the military anthropologist Felix de Azara described a pato sport scene taking place in the city.
  3. Cobiella, Nidia Mabel. "Historia del pato" [History of pato]. (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. Consistía en arrojar un pato hacia arriba y liberar dos grupos de jinetes que se atropellaban para capturarlo como fuera, y llevarlo. Los jugadores, entonces, se pasaban el pato unos a otros lanzándolo o golpeándolo, para finalmente lograr encestarlo en una red. En ocasiones el pato se colocaba dentro de una cesta y con ella se jugaba.
  4. 1 2 3 Moffett, Matt (18 June 2010). "In Soccer-Mad Argentina, the National Sport Is a Lame Duck". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  5. Ocaranza Zavalía, Nono. "Reglamento oficial del juego de pato" [Official rulebook of the game of pato]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 December 2012. El número de jugadores será de 4 por bando en todos los juegos y partidos debiendo numerarse del 1 al 4.