Choosing a riding discipline can sometimes seem very black or white – do you want to jump, or do you prefer flatwork? If you don’t fancy going round in circles or spending hours training for a 90 second chance to jump clear, you don’t have to feel left out. From horseball to endurance, go beyond the traditional.
With all the adrenaline of chasing a ball at full gallop, horseball offers a way to combine your love of super-speedy riding with some spectacular stunts. Played in teams of four, horseball is principally similar to other ball sports, with players passing between each other to score in a hoop defended by the other team. If the ball’s dropped, a rider must pick it up without dismounting – you best be flexible for this one! Games are played for 20 minutes with a three minute break in the middle, so it really is a game for the fast and furious. You don’t have to ride your own horse – although many people do, there are plenty of riding schools who offer clinics on their own horses to help you get involved.
Whether it’s a friendly five-mile ride with friends, or a monster, 100-mile competition you’re after, endurance offers every level you could want. Running over 100 events per year, and aiming to provide opportunities for riders of all levels and ambitions, endurance could be the perfect discipline for you. Rides are divided into sections called legs or phases, which, at the higher levels, are separated by veterinary inspections to ensure your horse is sound and fit to carry on. Events run all over the country and offer huge variety in terrain depending on where you go – natural obstacles such as banks, rivers and ditches will become a familiar thrill in no time. Endurance offers a real sense of adventure with which many equine disciplines simply can’t compete.
Another thrilling team sport, polocrosse is played across the world and offers riders the chance to put their control, speed and nerve to the test. Played in two teams of three, who each play alternate rounds, or chukkas, of eight minutes each, polocrosse follows similar rules to polo, and the season runs from May to September. At international level a pool of horses are used to play, however you can ride any horse at the lower levels – you’ll find everything from Thoroughbreds to Haflingers on the pitch! There’s even an award for retrained racehorses that play polocrosse, so there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
Pick your passion
With alternative disciplines becoming ever more popular on the circuit, there’s never been a better time to have a go at something new with your horse. Consider both of your strengths – be it speed, agility or toughness – and what it is you want out of an event – a team feel, thrill ride or test of your nerve. Take a look at the national organisations for your potential new discipline and get talking to some existing members – you might just make some friends for life.
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