Summer is here and what’s more fun than getting the kids together and playing games with the horses! Here are 8 cool games that will keep your kids off the couch and will get the horses moving too! You can also use these games if you give group riding lessons. It’s a great way to challenge your riding skills and have some fun at the same time!
Blind Man’s Tack Up
This is an excellent game for those rainy days. If you have a nice wide aisle that works best. Take one of your horses and put them on the cross ties or have someone hold them. Place all the tack around (bridle, saddle pad, saddle, girth, etc.) Have the children split up into teams of two so it wasn’t too overwhelming but you can try larger teams if you have a lot of kids playing. One person will be the eyes and the other will be blindfolded. When the timer starts the unblindfolded person will direct the blindfolded child from where the tack is, to putting it on the horse correctly. Once the horse is completely tacked up the timer stops. The team with the fastest time wins. This game is great because it makes kids use the proper name for equipment and work together.
A great game if you’re short on horses. You just need two well-behaved understanding horses and at least one barrel. Split the kids into two teams and let the games begin! On a timer, the rider has to race around the barrel. The first time around could be in a half seat or walk there trot back. Or maybe they have to trot down and side pass around the barrel. Be creative and challenge your skills. Maybe try making some flash cards with instructions and one kid draws a card and tells the rider what they have to complete. The team that does the best or fastest wins!
For this game, each rider takes a dollar bill and places it on the inside of their thigh. Riders are then asked to ride around while doing different things – posting trot, canter, jump, etc. When there is only one rider left with the dollar still tucked under their leg they win all the cash! Technically they win all the money but if you had to shell out $20 for this game you may not want to play by those rules. Ride-a-Buck is a fun way to teach leg position, balance and overall improves leg stability. For a more difficult version try it bareback.
Around the World
Around the World isn’t the type of game that will take up the whole lesson but it will help with balance. Have a person holding the horse and have the rider start sitting normally, then they swing one leg all the way over so they are sitting side saddle, then they swing the leg over again so they are sitting backwards, then side saddle to the other side and back to forward. Have the rider do it in both directions. If you have a really easy-going horse and want to challenge the rider's balance, try walking the horse slowly for a challenge. This game can be very helpful for kids who are scared to ride and can help build confidence and balance.
All you need for this fun horse game is a bucket, a softball and a stand (a jump stand will work). Have the two riders line up at one end of the ring with the ball on the stand at the other end. Riders race to the ball, grab it, ride back and have to drop the ball in the bucket. The first one to get the ball in the bucket wins. If at any point the rider drops the ball they have to dismount, pick it up and get back on. The more advanced students really enjoy this game. A fun way to add in more riders is turn it into a relay. Have a few riders at different points where they have to transfer the ball to each other without dropping it.
Obstacle courses are a great way to challenge any rider. You can set up any number of obstacles and time your riders as they navigate through. You can add challenges through the obstacle course as well. For example, having to gallop through a shallow waterway or side passing through objects that you have lined up. Be creative and make it fun!
Egg and Spoon
This one will test the rider’s skills. Start out by giving the first rider the egg on the spoon. They then have to ride to the next participant and pass it over without dropping it. The team that gets to the end first with their egg wins. If a team member drops their egg they have to start over. Throw in some trotting, steering, half seat, anything to make it more challenging. You can even throw in some obstacles if you want to make it really challenging.
Tack Take Apart
This is another good rainy-day game. You only need one bridle or saddle per team. Take apart all the pieces, undo all the buckles, take off the bit, etc. Lay out the pieces and let the kids put it back together. The team that puts together their bridle or saddle first wins. This game really helps reinforce all parts of the tack and helps them remember what everything is called.
An old school classic with an equine twist. Simon Says is a perfect horse game for larger groups and helps keeps the students focused on you. Depending on the experience level you could do simple things like raise left hand, point to your horse’s withers or half seat. With more experienced riders’ commands, such has drop your left stirrup, pick up a canter or change direction all help improve balance, focus and overall skill. Be creative with this and challenge the riders’ abilities.