Sep 20, 2007

Horseball is Tres French

So, I would never, ever want to admit that I didn’t know something horse-related, so let’s just say that I only had a ‘vague notion’ of what horseball was before today. The funny thing is that now I know more about it, I still don’t know how I feel about it. Frankly, I’m torn – half of me thinks it looks kind of amazingly awesome, and half of me thinks it’s just a fancy name for (barely) organized chaos.

So, those of you who also only have a ‘vague notion’ of what horseball is, allow me o show off my newfound expertise….Apparently it’s described as a sort of horse basketball, mixed with a little rugby. There are two teams (of 6 riders, I believe). There is a ball with lots of crazy handles all over it. There are strange basket-esque goals. Sporty things ensue. I’m a real sport-gal. It shows, doesn’t it? Mostly it just sounds like basketball on horseback; your team attempts to make goals into the basket-thing and whoever scores the most goals wins. What it amounts to is lots of people galloping an arena around with a ball.

What’s super cool and awesome about horseball is that you can ‘tackle’ your opponents. I don’t quite understand what the ‘tackle’ is all about. On one hand, it doesn’t seem like you can use physical contact against another rider, but on the other it seems you can use your shoulder and weight against another player, as well as placing your horse in their horse’s way to force them to move off-course. In theory this seems cool. I approve of mild physical violence at any time. Another thing that I am totally into is the fact that when the ball falls to the ground, a rider cannot dismount to pick it up. S/he has to swing down and scoop the ball up with his hand. I so want to be able to do this. And I’m sure it’s pretty good to teach your horse to deal with someone flopping all over and not freaking out. In fact, this would have come in handy the last time my mare unseated me and I was struggling to stay on, halfway off of the saddle. She utterly FREAKED OUT completely terrified of my new precarious position and I had no chance but to hit the dirt. Horseball training could have made that day less painful.

But I digress….Anyway, it’s kind of a cool sport in theory. Though like any team sport, when I try to watch it, it kind of makes me sleepy and bored. Trust me, it sounds cooler than it looks. And possibly it’s more fun to play than watch. I guess it was created in order to encourage people to engage in better riding and horsemanship. Because at many, many points during the game you must totally let go of the reins to catch or throw the ball and simply steer with your legs. Okay, being who I am, I’m totally down with that. Everyone should be able to steer off the seat and legs. But would I want to rely on that in that sort of situation? I don’t know, when I see all those horses galloping at each other and several riders with their hands in the air, I just cringe. You know, because theoretically you’re steering off your legs, but you’re also focused on making a goal and less on steering away from that horse dead in front of you…..It really creeps me out. I envision pony pile-ups. Maybe the horses just know what to do, like cutting horses and bullfighting horses. Their instincts are so good, they’re doing a lot of the steering for you. But still, I dare you to look at the chaos that ensues in those games and not cringe a couple of times. My horse would kick at another and suddenly in the middle of a goal, she’d take off in the opposite direction at full-speed. And she’s a well-trained horse. But clearly people do it and it seems to go well, so I don’t know…

And oh yeah, it was started in France. Who knew? First dressage, then horseball. But the French are great at it, so don't knock it. They seem to be sucking in the other horse discplines right now. I guess they excel at sports that they create the rules for. I'm so mean. But it just feels so good to be so mean. You gotta do what feels right....

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