Overland Park, Kansas | For horses lacking in confidence, skittish or out of shape, a Kansas City–area horse trainer over the past two years has been devising rules and marketing products related to horse soccer. Reneé Miller says she devised the game by accident, rolling her children’s 50-inch rubber play ball in front of a horse frightened by nearby objects. Fast-forward to the present and equines are playing three-a-side “hoofball” indoors, kicking the ball through open barn doors, and outside, with the traditional pair of 55-gallon drums as makeshift goals (videos available at the “Horse Soccer” website).
Miller’s 6-year-old quarter horse Nikki has benefited from the game, for which Miller envisions Olympic status alongside dressage, eventing and show jumping. “This horse came as a problem horse,” Miller tells the Kansas City Star. “He would get afraid and run backward and sit down and fall over. This is such good training for him because it’s building his confidence incredibly to go up and conquer something fearful.” For $59.95 one can order the “horse soccer kit” that includes an “official” ball, training video and rule book.