Owning a horse is hard work. Interrupting a rigorous training regimen with some fun games provides an opportunity for playful skill development that further enriches the horse and rider relationship. Mixing up a regular work schedule with games keeps riders focused and allows horses a chance to interact in a less restrictive environment. Riders of all ages and skills levels can participate in fun games on horseback with a horse of any discipline.
Polo, arguably the oldest team sport known to mankind, does not have to be played with polo ponies ridden by professional riders. A simple game of polo can be played with brooms and a playground ball. Set up the game by placing two goal cones about 10-feet apart on both sides of a large arena or field. Select four players for each team. Team members use a broom to try to shoot the ball between the two goals. Horses love this game of quick starts and stops and riders soon learn how to control their horses at a fast speed. Horses that are not easily spooked are best for this game.
The potato race, always a favorite at picnics and birthday parties, takes on a new twist when played on horseback. This engaging game is ideal for teaching young riders proper horse handling techniques and balance, and can be played at the walk, the trot, and the canter. The game begins by placing a 5-gallon bucket 50-feet away from a starting line. The players race, one at a time, with a potato towards the bucket. When they reach the bucket, they drop the potato inside. The player disqualifies if the potato does not make it into the bucket. The player with the best time wins!
Trail riders benefit immensely from obstacle course games as one never knows what they will encounter when out on a trail. Keeping a horse calm as they approach an obstacle is a skill that takes time to develop. Select a large area to set up a course. Several different types of obstacles can be used including small jumps, weaving cone patterns and mock bridges. Use your imagination to design safe obstacles suitable for the riders and the horses playing. The game can be judged by the fastest time or best handling.
Egg and Spoon
An egg and spoon challenge is a fantastic way to teach riders better balance and control of their horse. Riders must carefully balance an egg on a spoon while moving their horse forward. The game begins with riders in a circle at a walk. As the game progresses the leader calls out trot, canter or stop. Proper gait must be achieved without loosing the egg in this game of concentration.