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Mounted games or gymkhana is a fun way to build a relationship with your horse. Riding should always be fun and exciting.
However, sometimes we start losing interest in our riding because we keep doing the same thing over and over. Playings games are not only a great way to improve your riding, but it makes riding more fun for you and your horse.
3 Reasons to Add Games to Your Riding Routine
They can also help to desensitize your horse and build some competition in group lessons. Strange objects for horses such as flags and cones are often seen at a cross-country course or horse show, so desensitizing your horse to them now is a good idea.
Playing games with objects that could be potentially frightening you can teach your horse that these things are actually fun.
Mounted horse riding games can challenge you to control your balance and horse outside of the normal scope of riding, making you a better all-round rider.
Learning to Stay Focused
Mounted horseback riding games are a great way to teach your horse to follow your lead. In normal group lessons or on hacks your horse often just falls into a “herd mentality” and does whatever the other horses are doing.
However, with mounted horse games, your horse needs to learn to focus on what you’re asking them to do, while their friends are busy doing something else in the same general area. This is a fantastic way to teach youngsters (both horses and people) to keep their direction and focus despite what’s going on around them.
Mounted Horse Riding Games
Find a feed bag for each competitor. The person gets in the bag with both feet and bunny hops to the finish line while leading their pony.
The first rider and pony across the line wins the race! Just make sure your horse is okay with the bag before starting the race, it may take some getting used to.
Egg and Spoon Race
Like the traditional egg and spoon race, each rider needs to get their egg across the finish line on a spoon.
It may be easier for beginners to lead their pony or use a basket as they race towards the finish line, but more experienced riders can test their balance and focus by trying to canter. If the egg drops the rider needs to go back to the start and try again.
Pass the Egg
This is a team-building exercise where riders are required to stand as close as possible to each other and pass an egg between them, with a spoon.
The more advanced the riders, the more creative you can get, increasing the gap between the horses or even turning it into a relay with two or more teams.
For weaving cones, you will need traffic cones or something similar. Set them up in a straight line, about 2 meters apart, making as many rows as you need. Competitors then need to steer their pony in and out towards the finish line. If they miss a cone they need to turn back and try until they make the bend.
For extra fun, you can ride the lineup and down, or even three times to include a full bend at the end.
For the flag race you will need cones or jump uprights set up as above and flags on a stick or empty tin cans.
Each rider starts out with a certain number of flags or tins in the first cone (or in a bucket, you can be as creative as you like), which they then need to distribute in the rest of the cones or uprights in their line. The first rider to put a flag in each cone and make it back to the start line wins the race.
Similar to the flag race, the bucket race requires riders to drop something in a bucket and race back to the start line. This could be anything from a noisy tin can to a soft toy, depending on the level of experience of the riders.
Another fun leading game, riders have to make it across the arena stepping on buckets or feed bins or whatever else is safe to step on.
To make it even more interesting you can give each rider 2 buckets (or whatever stepping stone you’re using) so they have to switch the bucket around to move forward. Holding your pony, your balance, and making your way across the arena can be quite challenging!
Set up three barrels or cones or uprights in a 3-leaf clover. Use a stopwatch to time who can complete the pattern the fastest.
Riders take turns to be Simon. Just like the normal game, whoever does what Simon says wrong, or whoever does what “Sandy” says, drops out of the game. The last person standing wins the game.
Follow the Leader
This is a fun horse riding game to test your riding abilities and push yourself to be creative and try new things. Each person gets a chance to be the leader, doing just as they please. Whoever cannot follow the leader falls out of the game until the last person standing wins and becomes the new leader.
This is a lot like the Working Hunter class in show, except you can use just about anything in your obstacle course.
Obstacle courses are a great way to teach inexperienced riders and horses how to overcome any obstacles they may face, from opening and closing gates to walking over (or under) tarpaulin. The only limit is your imagination!
Chase me Charlie
This jumping game tests your skill and your courage. To play, set up a jump in the middle of the arena. Riders go over the jump one by one.
Once all the riders cleared the jump, it gets set higher. All the riders go over the jump again and those that clear the jump to go around to clear the next height and so on and so forth until only one is left standing.
The Keyhole Race
This kids horse riding game is more about skill than speed. Riders need to ride their pony into a block (which can be set up using poles, string, or even just drawn on the sand).
Once they are inside the block they need to turn their pony without stepping outside the block. When they have turned a full circle without stepping over the sides they race back to the start.
You can adjust the size of the block to match the skill level of the riders, the smaller the more difficult it would be.
The Ribbon Race
The ribbon race requires teams of two riders to hold onto opposite ends of a piece of string or ribbon and race towards the finish line. If you drop or break you ribbon you need to turn back and start again. The shorter the ribbon the more difficult it is to keep a hold at speed.
Move the Water
You’ll need two buckets and a cup per team. Place one bucket at the end of the arena and fill it with water. Place the other bucket at the starting line.
The object of the race is to fill the empty bucket with the water from the full bucket by dismounting, filling the cup, mounting and racing back to dump the water in the empty bucket.
Riders make turns like a relay to race across the arena. The first team to fill their bucket with the most water wins the race.
Red Light, Green Light
My favorite horse riding game, this competition tests your speed and responsiveness. One rider stands at the far end of the arena. The other riders line up and wait for the “green light”. They race as fast as they can towards the other side of the arena until they get the “red light”. Then they have to stop as quickly as possible.
The last person to stop falls out of the race. The person calling “green light/red light” can call it as quickly as they like, until someone catches them or nobody is left standing.
Walk, Trot, Canter Race
For this race all the competitors line up at one side of the arena. When the race starts the object of the game is to walk as fast as possible to the other side of the arena, then trot back as fast as possible, and finally canter (or gallop for the more experienced riders), back to the finish line.
The first one to cross the line wins. If your horse decides to trot or canter when they aren’t supposed t you need to do a 5m circle at a walk before carrying on.
Not all races are about speed. The snail race tests a rider’s control in any gait. The object of the game is to go as slow as possible in a walk, trot, or canter. For this race, the last person over the finish line wins the race!
That’s it for our list of the best horse riding game ideas to play. Which one is your favorite and have we missed any out? Let us know in the comments!
Monday 22nd of February 2021
I can't wait to try these out!
Wednesday 24th of February 2021
Glad to hear you liked our suggestions! :)