The answer to this question is found back in the 70’s, during which the French Equestrian Federation (presided by Monsieur Christian LEGREZ), decided to introduce games as an innovative new subject in equestrian teaching.
Until then, riding lessons followed a very military style as most of the teachers and staff at this time were ex-military. This left little room for leisure or pleasure, an opinion supported by cartoon caricatures from the period showing the riding instructor yelling in his school.
Two men and two regions in France were forerunners in this subject : Pascal MARRY from the Provence, and Jean-Claude GAST from the Centre-Val-de-Loire. During the 60’s and 70’s these men were practising riding instructors, and later became technical counsellors in their regions.
The distance covered professionally by these two men shows to which point their patronage to Horse Ball was of great quality; Jean-Claude GAST became National Technical Director of the French Equestrian Federation, and Pascal MARRY became technical counsellor to the minister for Youth and Sports.
Jean-Claude GAST, inspired by the PATO Lorrain (from the region of the same name) adapted a version of the German PATO rules which allowed the use of a cross to ‘pick-up’ the ball. This new version of Pato was better adapted to our country, and was popularised by Gast in the Centre-Val-de-Loire. The pitches required for Paddock-Polo and indoor pato are substantially smaller than their Argentine ancestors, which were close to 300 metres in length, making the new sport more suitable for modern riding centres.
We will see later how this decision (reduction in the size of the pitch) was one of the key success for the future of the discipline.
Under the influence of Jean-Claude (the regional technical counsellor), the President of the league - Centre-Val-de-Loire, Philippe LEFEBVRE-PONTALIS, was tasked by the President of the French Equestrian Federation, Christian LEGREZ, to create a Commission for Youth and Games, of which he became president.