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Thrilling Equestrian Sports: Polo Polocrosse Horseball Horse Soccer and Gymkhana Games!

Equestrian Sports Using Balls

Equestrian sports are a special category of sports that counts on the participation of horses. Horses have been loyal companions of humans for a long time, and they have been used in different activities, from transporting goods to helping us in battles.

In the world of sports, there are various disciplines that horses and riders can participate in. From dressage to steeplechasing, there is a vast array of options for those who love horses.

In this article, we will focus on equestrian sports that use balls, providing an overview of each. We will look at some of the most famous equestrian sports using balls, including polo, polocrosse, horseball, horse soccer, and gymkhana games.Equestrian sports using balls are intense and exciting games that require skill, agility, and precision from both the rider and the horse.

These sports are unique in the sense that they combine the speed and power of a horse with the rules and tactics of ball games. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular equestrian sports using balls, delving into their history and gameplay, as well as their various types.


Polo is an ancient sport that has been played for over two thousand years. It is also known as the “sport of kings,” as historically it was a sport played exclusively by wealthy individuals.

Polo is played with two teams of four players on horseback, and each team’s objective is to hit a small ball through the opponent’s goalposts using a long-handled mallet.

Polo ponies are specially trained to be fast and agile, with excellent endurance, making it possible to play six to eight chukkas or periods, of play, on grass in a world-class match.

Alongside grass polo, there is also arena polo, using a smaller ground, enclosed with boards or low walls.


Polocrosse is a relatively new variation of polo that combines elements of lacrosse and polo. Like polo, it is played on horseback, and the objective of the game is to score goals by throwing the ball through the opponent’s goalposts.

However, instead of mallets, players use a stick made of a light, flexible material with a net on one end to catch, carry and throw the ball – much like in lacrosse. The World Cup and World Championships of polocrosse are celebrated biennially, and the event attracts teams from all over the world.


Horseball is one of the most entertaining equestrian sports that use balls. It is a mix of many ball sports, mainly inspired by basketball and rugby.

Played with two teams of four to six players, horseball is an action-packed sport that requires excellent teamwork and problem-solving skills. The game involves carrying the ball down the field and throwing it through a hoop-shaped goalpost at the opposite end of the field.

Horseball is often compared to Quidditch on horseback, and it is a spectacle of speed, agility, and coordination.

Horse soccer

Horse soccer is an equestrian sport that uses the usual soccer rules, with a slight modification. It is a sport that can be played in an arena or an open field, and the game involves kicking a larger than normal soccer ball into the opponent’s goalpost.

Horse soccer is similar to playing soccer with horses or equine soccer. It tests the players’ riding skills and training, as well as their communication with their horses.

Gymkhana Games

Gymkhana games or mounted games are equestrian sports that use balls, but unlike other sports where the main goal is to hit the ball to the opponent’s goalpost, gymkhana games are a series of relay races, ball and cone, and obstacle courses that challenge the rider’s speed, agility, and horsemanship. They are fun and exciting games that test the rider and the horse’s mental and physical abilities.

Gymkhana games are often raced against the clock, making it even more thrilling for both the participants and the spectators.

Types of


Beach polo, cowboy polo, and snow polo are some of the variations of polo, similar in gameplay to the regular sport but using different terrains, weather conditions or horses.

Beach polo is played in a smaller arena, with only three polo players per team – allowing for faster play; whilst cowboy polo is played like regular polo, but in a rodeo-style environment with Western gear. Snow polo is a winter sport that takes regular polo and moves it onto a snow-covered field.


Equestrian sports using balls are a captivating blend of equestrianism and ball games that test the physical and mental abilities of both the rider and the horse. Each sport offers different challenges and thrills, making them all fascinating for equestrian fans and sports enthusiasts alike.

From the “sport of kings” to Quidditch on horseback, equestrian sports that use balls are an impressive display of athleticism and horsemanship. 3)


Polocrosse is a popular sport played worldwide, combining elements of polo and lacrosse. In this sport, players ride one horse throughout the entire game, passing and catching a ball using a racquet that has a net on the end.

The objective of the game is to score a goal by throwing the ball through the opposing team’s goalpost.

Polocrosse is enjoyed by riders of all ages and skill levels.

History and Gameplay

Polocrosse is said to have originated in Australia, where it was first played in the early 1930s. However, the game’s true origins are believed to date back to ancient Persia, where warriors played a similar game on horseback using the heads of their enemies instead of a ball.

Over the years, polocrosse evolved into the modern-day sport we know today.

Polocrosse games are played on a rectangular field that measures 146 yards by 73 yards. The game is divided into six periods, called chukkas, and each chukka is seven minutes long.

Teams consist of six players, comprising two forwards, two midfielders, and two defenders. Players cannot cross the center line of the field, and once a player has possession of the ball, they must either pass it, shoot it, or carry it.



Today, polocrosse is played in over thirty countries worldwide, including South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The international governing body for polocrosse is the International

Polocrosse Council (IPC). The IPC oversees international conferences, tournaments, and championships, including the

Polocrosse World Cup, held every four years. The most recent

Polocrosse World Cup was held in Australia in 2019, and the next one will be in South Africa in 2023.

In the United States, the American

Polocrosse Association (APA) oversees the sport’s administration and organization. The APA hosts regional and national championships, as well as training clinics and other events to promote and develop the sport across the country.

The APA also sends teams to the

Polocrosse World Cup and other international competitions.



Horseball is a unique and entertaining equestrian sport that originated in France in the early 1970s. It is played with two teams of four to six players, each riding a specially trained horse.

The game involves carrying a ball with six handles and throwing it over the opposing team’s goalpost, which is a basket-like structure.

Horseball is one of the few team sports where men and women compete together on an equal footing.

History and Gameplay

The International Federation of Equine Sports (IFES) governs horseball, and the sport is played in over ten countries around the world. In horseball, each team has six players, with four on the field at any one time.

The game is divided into two halves of ten minutes each, with a halftime break of five minutes. To win the game, a team must score more goals than its opponent.

Horseball is a game that requires both horse and rider to be in excellent physical condition. The game involves galloping horses, quick turns, and unexpected stops and starts, making it a thrilling sport to watch.

Horseball requires riders to have excellent horsemanship skills and coordination, as well as good ball-handling and passing abilities.


The International Federation of

Horseball (IFHB) organizes international competitions, including the European Championships and the World Cup. France is one of the most successful countries in horseball, and the French team has won multiple World Cup championships over the years.

Other countries that have shown promise in horseball include Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany.

In the United States, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) recognizes horseball as a discipline, and several associations promote and organize the sport across the country.

The North American

Horseball Association (NAHA) hosts clinics, training sessions, and regional and national championships. The NAHA also has a team that competes internationally.

In conclusion, polocrosse and horseball are two exciting equestrian sports that use balls. Their unique histories, gameplay, and international events make them popular among participants and spectators worldwide.

Whether playing on horseback or watching from the sidelines, these sports showcase the beauty of the relationship between horse and rider, fitness with teamwork, and the thrill of sport.

5) Horse Soccer

Horse soccer is a unique equestrian sport that combines the sport of soccer with horses. The game is played with a ball that has a diameter of over 40cm, which is larger than a traditional soccer ball.

Two barrels or flags represent each team’s goalposts, and the game aims to score goals by kicking the ball between the opposing team’s goalposts.

Horse soccer is a game that tests the rider’s horsemanship skills and the horse’s agility, speed, and responsiveness.

Gameplay and Equipment

In horse soccer, two opposing teams of four to six riders play against each other. The riders use their horse’s legs to score goals and must use their riding skills to position the horse appropriately to get the best scoring opportunity.

Each game is divided into two halves of a particular time length, with a break in between. The sport requires riders to wear a helmet and boots, and in recent years, padded gloves specially designed for horse soccer are becoming more common.


Horse soccer events are gaining popularity worldwide, with many countries forming associations to govern and promote the sport. One of the most recognized horse soccer leagues is the Americas Equine Soccer League (AESL), founded in 2013.

The league operates in the United States and Canada and hosts tournaments and championships throughout the year. The AESL also supports specialized training, referee development, and youth development programs.


Gymkhana Games

Gymkhana games, also known as mounted games, are a collection of horse and rider competitions designed to be both fun and challenging. Gymkhana games rely on a wide range of skills, including horsemanship, coordination, speed, and precision.

As a result, they are often used to improve riding and teamwork skills. There are many gymkhana games events held all over the world throughout the year, appealing to riders of all ages and levels of experience.

Common Ball Handling


There are several different events in gymkhana games that involve ball handling skills. One popular event involves the use of socks and buckets.

Riders must pick up a sock and then race to a bucket on the other side of the arena before returning to their starting point. In another event, riders must ride their horse over two poles arranged in an “X” shape, then pick up a ball and ride through a weaved obstacle course.

There are also relay races that require riders to pass a ball as quickly and accurately as possible, and ball and cone events that require the rider to pick up a ball and place it into a cone as fast as possible.


Mounted Games Across America (MGAA) is a non-profit organization that promotes and governs gymkhana games in the United States. The MGAA hosts several national championships throughout the year, as well as supporting regional and local events.

The MGAA also encourages the participation of young riders with youth programs designed to develop horsemanship skills.

The Mounted Games Association International (MGAI) is another highly regarded governing body for gymkhana games.

The MGAI operates on an international level, fostering and popularizing the sport globally. They host international championships biennially, called the World Team championships, where riders and horses from different countries compete against each other.

In conclusion, horse soccer and gymkhana games are fantastic equestrian sports that combine horse riding and ball handling skills.

Horse soccer is fast-paced and exciting, and it requires riders and horses to work efficiently and effectively as a team.

Gymkhana games offer a wide range of events that challenge riders’ skills and abilities. With their increased popularity and growing international events, horse soccer and gymkhana games are excellent avenues for everyone interested in equestrian sports.

7) Horse Ball Sports Around the World

Horseball is just one of many equestrian sports that incorporate a ball into the gameplay. Horse ball sports are particularly popular in many countries around the world, with various disciplines that differ in gameplay, equipment, and objective.

Some of the notable horse ball sports played in different parts of the world are pato from Argentina and kok-boru (or kokpar) from Central Asia.


Pato is the national sport of Argentina, played on horseback for over four centuries. The game originated in the rural areas of the country, where the skills of the gaucho riders were showcased through their amazing horsemanship abilities.

Pato, which means duck in Spanish, was originally played with a live duck inside a basket, but this tradition stopped in the 1930s. The games popularity continued, and it is currently played in a ring and using a ball that has six handles.

Pato is governed by the Federacion Argentina de

Pato y

Horseball (FAPH), founded in 1953, with the objective of promoting and developing both sports in the country.

Pato is usually played by two teams of four players, aiming to score points by throwing the ball through a ring at the opposite end of the playing field.

While pato can be a physical sport, Argentine fans still perceive it as a cultural tradition, and it is prevalent in rural areas of the country, with national leagues and championships held every year.


Kok-Boru, also known as kokpar, is a traditional game that is prevalent in Central Asia, particularly among the nomadic tribes. Played since old times, it is said to have originated from the Mongol Empire and continued throughout Central Asia after the empire’s downfall.

In this game, riders aim to gain possession of a headless goats carcass and throw it into the opposing team’s goalpost. The game is played on horseback, and the use of a goat’s carcass instead of the ball makes the sport both exciting and challengingat the same time.

In 2001, a variation of kok-boru was created to promote the game internationally, making it more accessible to players worldwide. It was renamed buzkashi, which is the Afghan version of the game.

Buzkashi means “goat-grabbing” literally, and it captures the essence of this game perfectly. Buzkashi is played mainly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and its popularity has grown over the years.

In recent years, Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, has hosted the World Nomad Games, a multi-sport competition held every two years that highlights traditional horse sports and

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