MORETON Morrell College equine course manager Donna Allen and her horse Roo are this week (August 14-20) representing Team GB’s horseball squad in the World Cup in Portugal.
Horseball is a spectacular equestrian sport which can be defined as a mix of ‘basketball and rugby on horseback’.
Inspired on the Argentinian ‘Pato’, it was started in France by French Army Captain Clave, a showjumping world champion.
Teams of four aim to score points by shooting the ball through a high net (approximately 1.5m x 1.5m) which stands on each end of the field as a goal.
Donna got into the sport after seeing it at the Olympia Horse Show in London and formed the Warwickshire Warriors, who she still plays for and manages today.
They have been very successful, winning the British League, British Open and competing in the Champions League in France.
She said: “At a high level, the sport needs very good riding ability to control the horse at speed, also good ball skills, flexibility, core strength and the psychological skills to be able to work in a team.”
Donna was selected for Team GB after trials in February and a selection process to get to the final squad of eight.
She added: “It’s been a long and hard fought process as it’s based on a combination of playing ability and dedication to getting your horse fit and well trained.”
Having previously played for Team GB, the waiting process to hear about the selection was still intense for Donna, who added: “The nerves, excitement and feeling sick were as high as when I was waiting on my first ever selection back in 1998!
“Once the email arrived and I was listed I was ecstatic. It’s an immense privilege to represent your country and every time is special for different reasons.”
Donna also encourages equine students at Moreton Morrell College to try out the sport.
She continued: “I run have-a-go sessions for our higher education equine students during the academic year. It’s a true team sport which is unique in equestrianism, in which riders generally compete as individuals and not work together like in team sports such as rugby. It’s great for improving team-working skills in a fun environment.
“You also need to ride with your seat and use your hands to catch and throw the ball so helps improve riding ability too.
“The skill of picking the ball up off the ground requires the use of the core muscles and improves flexibility, both of which are important for correct riding in general. Therefore, riders get a good workout while having fun!”
You can follow the Horseball World Cup at www.fihbworldcup.net.
Moreton Morrell College offers a range of equine courses at a variety of levels. For more information go to www.warwickshire.ac.uk/courses or call 0300 456 0049.