Can anyone tell me what the heck is going on with equine soccer? When we posted a link to this short 2012 video explaining the sport on our H&R Facebook page last December, the response was enthusiastic.
“I played this with my lesson girls!,” reported Samantha Pynes McQueen. “It allowed them to use the skills they were learning and have fun doing something different from the normal patterns and rail work.”
“Would like to meet more people who play,” enthused Jim Blanchard.
And what’s not to like? Equine soccer is an informal game played with one of those 40-inch, heavy-duty inflatable balls that horsemanship clinicians use for desensitizing and other training.
It’s similar to human soccer in that any player can score a goal, only in this case it’s the horses themselves that move the ball by bumping it with their front legs.
Two players can compete, or you can have teams of up to three or four riders per team.
“Combines natural horsemanship techniques with a family-friendly team sport,” says the video’s voiceover.
Intrigued, I contacted the outfit that had created the video—the American Equine Soccer League—only to learn it was no longer in business. Then I put “equine soccer” into my search engine but got no hits from later than 2014.
I can’t imagine the sport hasn’t continued to grow since then, but where? And among whom? Can anyone tell me?
I eventually found my way to Lisa Ross-Williams, who markets her Equi-Spirit soccer balls all over the world.
“They call it hoof ball overseas,” she told me, adding that it’s a great way to get together with horsey friends “and have fun in a way that encourages horse and rider to work together using concentration and focus.”
Lisa, a natural horsemanship advocate, also stressed that equine soccer should be used as a way to reinforce good basics, not as an excuse for bad horsemanship.
“No yanking, cranking, or batter-ram kicking in order to win,” she said. “Instead, the game should be played by horse-and-rider teams that have a foundation in place and are using the activity to strengthen that bond of trust and communication.”
All of which sounds great to me, and I can easily imagine how much fun this game is to play.
So, IS anyone playing it?
Please let me know over at Horse&Rider’s Facebook page, or zip an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.