Iíd be the first to claim that there is nothing more relaxing than a solitary ride out on my horse. But, sometimes being on a team can be fun too. Being on a team often requires showing up for practices, buying and wearing a team uniform, and of course showing up for any competitions or events. So, commitment is required to make the team work. What sort of team horse activities can you take part in? Hereís a look.
One of the oldest games played on horseback, and one of the most well known is polo. Historically, modern polo was only played by the upper classes, who could afford horses in the first place. But now, polo clubs can welcome riders from all walks of life, and often you donít need to know how to ride well, or own a horse to participate.
One of the most ancient team sports in North America is lacrosse. Itís something like hockey, without the ice, and the team members carry a ball in a long-handled net, rather than shoot a puck with a hockey stick. It is played on foot, but a horseback version borrows some rules from polo and itís called Polocrosse. The goal, like lacrosse, is to get the ball between the goal posts. A polocrosse team has six members although only three are on the field at one time.
Another game that takes some rules from polo is Horse Ball. It also borrows some tactics and rules from rugby and basketball. There are six players on each team, with four on the field at any time. The riders carry a small basketball type ball in their hands. Points are scored when the ball is pitched into the oppositionís net, which unlike a basketball hoop, sits vertically, rather than horizontally. The riders drop the reins when they have the ball, and there can be a lot of contact and checking, similar to a rugby game. If the ball hits the ground, a rider has to pick it up without leaving the saddle. Horse Ball is an FEI sport.
Ride Ďní Tie
This sport combines riding and cross country running. A pair of riders ride and run to cross the finish line ahead of the other teams. The horse is ridden by one person who goes ahead of the runner. The horse is then tied safely and left to wait for the other team member. The winners are the team that has all members cross the finish line in the fastest time.
This South American game is very similar to horse ball and is definitely a contact sport. Historically, it was played with a duck rather than a ball. But now the ball has handles. The ball must be carried as the player stands in the stirrups and holds the ball out. The opposition must also stand to try to grab the ball. Tugging matches can ensue. Again, like horse ball, points are scored when the ball is thrown through the opposing teamís hoop.
Teams of three and pairs can compete in vaulting, a combination of dance and gymnastics on horseback. The horse is lunged in a circle and the participants are judged on their grace, execution and creativity.
Team Penning and Roping
Like most rodeo sports, these team penning and team roping demonstrate the skills used in real ranch work. In team penning, three riders most move three marked steers or cows from a herd of thirty, through a gate at the opposite end of an arena. There is an allotted time they must complete the task in. Most rodeo and cattle working sports have their roots in real ranch work and cattle handling.
Roping has two riders per team. One is called a header, the other a heeler. The riders must rope a steer and once the steer can no longer run, it must be held immobile by the horses who are taught to keep pressure on the rope. The event is timed. Team roping is the only rodeo sport where men and women compete together, or on combined teams.
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