Monday, 17 November 2014


In August, I was lucky enough to have a go at Horseball.   I enjoyed myself although we did not reach the speeds that the professionals do – which actually looks quite terrifying.  The World Equestrian Games held a demonstration tournament to raise the profile of this exciting sport too. 

What is horseball?
According to their website horseball is like a combination of polo, rugby and basketball.  Played on horseback the ball is handled and points are scored by shooting it through a high net.  

The sport has similar rules to basketball but to help riders pick up the ball it has 6 handles.  If the ball hits the floor riders have to lean over the side of the horse to grab it (pick up) and this has to be done at speed! Games are usually very fast paced moving at a canter and gallop and the riders often have no reins. Take a look at this clip to see how the professionals do it.

Horseball originated in Argentina in the early 1700’s and was then a game called Pato.  It was outlawed in 1790 due to the high mortality rates but in 1941 the Federacion Argentina de Pato was created.  In 1953 Pato was declared Argentina’s national games, however, in Pato a live duck was used instead of a ball. 

The game
A team is made up of six horses and six players. Only 4 players from each team are allowed on the pitch at any one time. The remainder are substitutes, a team can play with only three players but no less.  Each horse can usually only participate in one match a day, although they can participate in two matches a day provided that the length of each half of the match is less than 8 minutes.

Picking up the ball takes practice.   Known as ramassage, the rider pushes their foot well into the stirrup, points their toe outwards and up and leans downwards and to the side to grab the ball. A special strap is attached to each stirrup under the horses belly to help the rider stay on.

Players must make at least 3 passes between 3 different players on their team before scoring a goal.  The opposing team defends their goal by pushing the opponents out of the playing area using the horses weight or they can pull the ball from the hands of their opponent.  When attempting to do this the rider can only use one hand. If either player loses their seat in the saddle during the struggle he or she must release the ball immediately.

A match consists of two halves, each of 10 minutes duration or less separated by a half-time period of 3 minutes.  The team who will pick up first is decided on the toss of a coin. This team can then decide; who will pick up first (the starting team) and which end they will defend.  To start the game, on the referee’s signal, the players of the picking up team attempt to pick up the ball at a canter.
The teams will change ends at the end of the first half, at the start of the second half the other team will attempt to pick up first. There are two referees, one on the pitch (on horseback) and one on the sideline (seated) control each match.

The ball is a light-coloured junior (size 4) football surrounded by a harness to which six
leather handles are attached.  The pitch must be level and the surface soft, even, and non-slip in order to provide a safe and secure footing for the horses.  Pitches may be indoors or outdoors. Ideal dimensions are 65 m x 25 m.  Bordering the pitch along each side is a security zone. This is between 3m and 5m wide along the length of each side of the pitch where the team trainer and grooms may sit and where the substitutes must wait.  There are two goals one positioned at the centre of each end of the pitch. 

This is a sport which is fast paced and exciting, it takes skill and courage to ‘pick up’ but with a bit of practice would be a great new experience to enjoy. 
It is one of the ten disciplines officially recognised by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

If you fancy finding out a bit more visit their website at

Later this week I will be uploading a vlog of my weekend on my You Tube channel.   Horse Life and Love
Please check it out and SUBSCRIBE.

You can also follow me on Facebook for updates on Chesney, Basil, Fidget and Daisy.

Until next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment