What is the Equestrian Competition of Gymkhana?

Horse Pole Bending

          Have you heard other horse enthusiasts talking about gymkhana?  Have you ever wondered what gymkhana is?  In this article gymkhana is described and how to get involved in gymkhana is discussed.


          Gymkhana is a term used to describe an equestrian event that consists of speed events. These events include barrel racing, pole bending, keyhole, keg race, and flag race. These competitions often center on children participation. Most gymkhana competitions are put on by young rider groups such as Pony Club or 4H.


            In other parts of the US, this type of competition may be called an “O-Mok-See”. The tern O-Mok-See comes from a Native American phrase meaning games on horseback. Typically in this type of competition, riders are simultaneously running the race pattern in 3-4 separate lanes in the same arena.


            These types of competitions can also be called mounted games. Mounted games consist of many fast paced games on horseback. The mounted games is open to riders of any age on ponies up to the height of 15 hands.To participate in the mounted games the rider must have good riding skills, good hand-to-eye coordination, determination, a competitive spirit, and perseverance. Mounted games include, pony express, carton race, ball and cone, bottle shuttle, bang-a-balloon, and many others. Games can be ridden as a team, a pair, or individually. So if you are looking for a fun and fast competition for your pony, consider the mounted games, O-Mok-See, or the gymkhana.


             A great place to start looking for a way to compete in these speed games is to join an organization that puts on competitions.


             Pony Club is an international youth group devoted to educating about horses and riding. The Pony Club was first formed in Great Britain in 1929. It was formed to encourage young children to start riding. Currently, there are over 100,000 Pony Clubs worldwide. These are local clubs which vary in membership size. Many local clubs will compete with neighboring clubs and typically compete together at regional competitions. The participants’ age ranges from 8 to 25 years of age. Because there is a wide range of age groups within Pony Club, mentoring of the older members to the younger members is encouraged. There many different ability levels within Pony Club, so there is a place for any rider no matter their experience level. If you are looking for an opportunity for a child that involves horses, consider your local Pony Club for riding opportunities that they may not have gotten on their own.


             4H is a youth organization in the US that is presided over by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of 4H is to allow children to develop leadership, responsibility, and other life skills through experimental learning and positive development. The organization focuses on the four H’s in 4H: head, heart, hands, and health. 4H began in the 20th century. It was created as a practical and hands on approach to learning and to benefit rural youth. The national organization started in 1914, this was an organization to provide opportunities for both girls and boys. In 1924 the clover leaf symbol became the clubs emblem. Today 4H is an extremely popular program that educates in science, citizenship, and healthy living. The organization is associated with many camps, county fairs, and state fairs. So if you looking for a great educational program for your child, consider your local 4H club.


             The Mounted Games Association (IMGA) is open to all ages. They host competitions worldwide. Each year a world championship is held. So no matter your age, if you are interested in participating in speed games at any age, consider joining the Mounted Games Association. 


              If you have a child that has a need for speed, consider the above clubs as a way to become involved in your local gymkhana competitions. These competitions are extremely fun and a great way to educate about horses and horse care.