Equestrian sport which combines speed, strategy, precision and above all a strong team spirit, horseball has thousands of followers around the world. It is at the Centre Équestre Notre-Dame in L’Île-Perrot, from September 25th to 26th that people will be able to discover or enjoy this sport for free, as part of the horseball competition that will take place at the Centre Équestre Notre-Dame in L’Île-Perrot.
Photo Amy-Jill Drury
A sport unknown to the general public, but still on the rise, horseball is a team equestrian sport adapted from the game of Pato from Argentina and Buzkashi from Asia. It’s similar to hockey or soccer. However, it is done on horseback. Two teams of 4 to 6 riders (4 on the field) compete. The goal is to score a goal through a vertical hoop without dismounting. It is played using a soccer ball inserted into a harness with pickup straps. This specific equipment allows players to be able to pick up the ball when it falls to the ground, to tear it away from opponents and above all to get back in the saddle easily.
A horseball match consists of two 10-minute periods separated by a 3-minute half-time. The rule is that a minimum of 3 passes are made between 3 different riders before you can score. A rider cannot hold the ball for more than 10 seconds. The playing field is sand with a minimum area of 65 x 25 m. Goals are installed on both sides of the field, equipped with nets as well as a safety area on each side of the field lengthwise.
As explained by Amy-Jill Drury, communications manager at Horse-ball Québec, a mastery of the basics of equestrianism is required. “Sometimes the players don’t even touch the reins, says Mrs. Drury. When a player is in possession of the ball, he often has to control his horse with his legs. It requires great experience and an excellent control.”
Increasingly popular in Quebec
Horseball is a relatively recent sport. It was codified in France in the 70s. The first French Championship took place in 1979. In Quebec, horseball made its appearance in 2004. Although there is talk of a presence of less than 20 years on Quebec soil, Canada has participated twice and a team will be formed for 2022 to participate again.
“Trainer Charles Bastien, from the team Cèdres, could see several of his players selected to compete in the Horseball World Championship next year. There is no age to play horseball. A player’s level is based on their skills and their effectiveness on the field”, confirms Mrs. Drury.
No, you don’t necessarily have to own a horse to play horseball. It is possible to rent one. Amy-Jill Drury mentions that the majority of players on the Cèdres team do not have horses. “We practice at Écurie Les Cèdres, confirms Mrs. Drury. There is then an agreement between the owner of the place, Stephan Daoust and the players. However, at a certain level it is better to own your horse.”
For more information on horseball and on the upcoming competition that will engage teams from Les Cèdres, L’Île-Perrot and Hemmingford, you can consult the horse-ball Québec website.