The sport, described as “a cross between rugby and basketball on horseback”, involves two teams of four players on the pitch. They must get hold of the ball without dismounting and make three passes between three different players before attempting to shoot into the goal.

No player is allowed to keep hold of the ball for more than 10 seconds, helping to make the action so fast and furious.

It is taking place each evening during the championships, which run until Sunday (August 12) at Bishop Burton College, and spectators are being encouraged to come along and make some noise.

“The more shouting and screaming the better,” said Jenny Hughes, from the Great Britain Horseball Events Team.

“Compared to the other equine disciplines, our supporters are very noisy.”

Jenny, 28, and her friend Mia Berry, 25, are both keen horseball players and say they are “more than happy” to talk to anybody wanting to find out more about the fast-paced equine sport, which is taking place in the college’s impressive indoor equine arena.

“It’s a cross between rugby and basketball on horseback,” said Mia, speaking before GB’s Thursday night match with Spain.

GB horseball’s squad consists of Raphael Redmond, 15, Annabelle Tobin, 16, Victoria Percy, 16, Bethany Lambley, 14, Kai Brown, 16, Hannah Darrington, 15, Courtney Goodhew, 16, and Elizabeth Lingard, 16. Team captain is Donna Allen.

The countries competing in the competition include Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium. Matches, which take place in two, ten-minute halves, are spectacular to watch.

“At this level the pace is either canter or gallop,” said Jenny. “The ponies love it and I suppose, from a spectator’s point of view, the most dramatic thing is watching the riders pick up the ball. They are able to bend right down to the ground by using a strap which is attached to the stirrup and passes underneath their horse’s belly.”

For more information, or to find a horseball club near you, visit or call into the horseball office at Bishop Burton College during the championships.