What is horseball?
Horseball is a great sport played on horseback with similar rules to basketball. Points are scored by shooting a ball through a net and to help players pick up and carry the ball – it has six handles!The games are fast-paced, with riders riding at the canter or gallop with no hands! Oo-er! Most clubs have junior and senior teams, so anyone can give it a go!
Horseball originated as a game called Pato in Argentina in the early 1700s, but it was outlawed in 1790 due to high mortality rates! In 1941 the Federacion Argentina de Pato was created and Pato was declared as Argentina’s national game in 1953. In pato games, a live duck was used instead of a ball! How quackers is that? Luckily, the game of horseball, as it’s known today, uses a ball instead of an animal.
Picking up the ball
Known as ramassage, picking up the ball takes a lot of skill! The rider stands up in their stirrups, lifts their right toe to keep their foot in the stirrup and leans backwards and to the side to grab the ball. It takes a lot of precision to do it at a gallop!
What are the rules?
The basic rules involve a team of four players as well as some substitutes on the sidelines if necessary. Players must make a minimum of three passes between three different players on their team before they can try to score a goal.
The opposing team can defend their goal by pushing opponents out of the playing area using their horse’s weight, or they can pull the ball from their opponent’s hands. In this situation, each rider must remain seated in the saddle – the first to get pulled out of the saddle loses a penalty. On the other hand, if both stay seated and the defender manages to keep hold of the ball for more than 10 seconds, their team earns a penalty.
When the ball is dropped or falls onto the ground, anyone can pick it up so long as they are going in the same direction when the ball was dropped. This is to avoid any head-on-head collisions while someone is picking up the ball. All the players must ride in the same direction as much as possible to avoid accidents. The rules for picking up the ball are simple: the horse has to be moving when picking up the ball – stopping is forbidden as it damages the horse’s back and usually means that the player has less of a swing to pull themselves back up, which can often result in falling due to losing a stirrup.
Most tack for horseball is the same as for ordinary riding. Riders do need special pick-up straps which secure the stirrups to each other underneath the horse, so the rider doesn’t fall while picking up the ball. Where can I take part?
Visit horseballuk.co.uk for more information on how to get involved!