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All about horseball

If you’re looking to try out an exciting equestrian sport with a difference, horseball could be the answer

Horseball is a fast and furious team sport that is said to be a cross between rugby and basketball on horseback.

The sport was developed 20 years ago by the French Equestrian Federation who were looking for something to help develop riding skills The format was devised by Jean Paul Depons, a riding instructor and rugby player.

Since its inception, the sport has grown worldwide and Britain now boasts eight senior teams including the Trent Valley and Cobham Manor.There are also several associated junior teams.

Rules of the game

Each team comprises four players competing in halves of 10 minutes. The pitch is no more than 70m x 30m, which ensures a close contact game.

The game is played with a junior-sized football with six leather handles.This “ball” must be won during a line up and then passed to a minimum of three team members at least three times without dropping it, or allowing the opposition to gain possession.

The ball is then passed through a hoop 1m in diameter and 3.5m from the ground to score.

If the ball is dropped, the player must slide from the saddle and sweep it up secured only by the stirrups, which are attached to a belly strap around the horse. The riders must also contend with his fair share of “barging” from the opposing team. The idea is to throw the opposing player off balance and use this opportunity to take the ball.

Physical contact is essential when tackling, although “grabbing” players is against the rules.

Horseball demands good horsemanship and is open to riders aged eight and over. According to Kevin Smith, Horseball’s sponsorship liaison manager, a suitable candidate would be “the typical riding club rider”

Horse suitable for this sport should be fit and have considerable stamina. Ex-polo and racehorses are ideal, although the horse must remain controllable even when in close proximity of other horses and not become upset by the rider moving around in the saddle.

Horses should wear over-reach boots and bandages for protection, while the rider must wear a hat of recognised safety standards, sturdy footwear and knee boots.

To find out more about horseball visit www.horseball.org.uk

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