In February 1979 the first French Championship of Equestrian Games took place at Poitiers with a programme consisting of:
The first rules were a compromise between those of Pato, using a ball with handles and goals 2.70m high, and those of CLAVE’S Horse Ball which allowed players to get off their horses to pick-up the ball. The pick-up strap did not yet exist and the only teams who could pick-up the ball without dismounting where Provence and Aquitaine.
We remember the first final between the Aquitaine Horse Ball team, made up of former rugby players, and that of the North, made up of four girls!History says that Aquitaine won by offering flowers to their opponents during the prize giving…
Philippe THIEBAUT and Jean-Paul DEPONS were the referees during this first championship, under the guidance of Paul LANCHAIS. After this experience, each one took a different decision : THIEBAUT decided to start playing, creating a team in Avignon and then another in Salon-de-Provence, whereas DEPONS decided to focus all of his time into the training of his team.
In October 1979 the second championships took place, and with the experience taken from the first championship it was clear to see that there was a need to branch further away from the rules of Pato, in order to accommodate matches in riding schools (small surfaces, with riding school horses), and to help promote the image of a team sport.
The relay between the two initiators of the game, P.MARRY and J.C. GAST, and the two team sport enthusiasts, P.THIEBAUT and J.P. DEPONS took place progressively.
During a reunion at Castillion-la-Bataille after the championships, the game was renamed Horse-Ball and was given its own specific regulations.
The position of Horse Ball within the commission became more and more important, to the point where the creation of another, more specific commission was needed, of which Jean-Paul DEPONS became the President.