Horseball is a highly spectacular equestrian sport that can be defined as a mix of "basketball and rugby on horseback".
It is a fast action team game played on horseback based on attack and defense with the objective of scoring goals. Each team has four players, plus two substitutes (6 in total), and they must make a minimum of three passes between three different players before scoring. Players can be substituted at any break of play. The ball is a size 4 football (size 3 for the Ladies game) encased in a harness with 6 leather handles to enable picking up. The ball cannot be held for more than 10 seconds by any player, so they have to pass the ball between them when they make an attack which makes it a real team game. When the ball falls to the ground a player must pick it up in motion without dismounting or changing pace, this action is called "ramassage", the French term for picking up the ball. There is a strict priority to this in the interests of safety. The players score by throwing the ball through a 1m. diameter vertical hoop 3.5m from the ground to the bottom and hung 1m. into the pitch, which stands at each end as the goal. The game is normally played on an equestrian surface, in a rectangular pitch that is approximately 65 meters by 25 meters (approximately 215 feet by 80 feet). Each game lasts 20 minutes, made up of 2 x10 minute halves with a 3minute half time when the teams change ends. The team that scores the most goals win.
Where was Horseball born?
The origin of Horseball was an invention of the French Army Captain Clave, a show jumping world champion. The idea was to have a game which would improve the partnership between Horse & Rider, could be played on a standard riding manège and would be fun to play. It was developed further by a group of Frenchman who set up a commission under the presidency of Jean Paul Depons, a riding Instructor and rugby player in the Bordeaux region. It was this group who regularised the rules of Horseball in France. In the late 1970s, the French Horse Federation (FFE) accepted Horseball as a discipline and it became popular quite quickly, especially in the regions of Provence, Midi and the Loire Valley. Although the rules were established in 1978 in France, the international development started only in early 90's and in 1992 the International Commission of Horseball was set up with France, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal and the first European Cup was held at the Salon De Cheval in Paris in December of that year. Austria joined soon after.