Last updated: April 28, 2021
Our grandchildren and their friends love riding horses and playing games. We researched the best games to play while riding horses and added a couple you can play with a horse.
|Eggs and Spoon
|Red Light, Green Light
Horseback riding is fun, but by adding games, you kick the enjoyment up a notch. With a little imagination, you can add a twist to create new games from the ones above.
Games to play with other riders
Our kids are seasoned riders on horses they ride almost daily. Some of these games require skill and familiarity with horses. People can and do get injured riding horses. Don’t try any of the games without permission from your parents.
It’s recommended that riders wear helmets. I wrote an article you can read that covers the dangers of horseback riding and provides safety tips: Is Riding a Horse Dangerous? 7 Tips For Riding Safe.
Some of our suggested games are to enjoy with your horse and not a competition with others. In these games, it’s essential to make sure your horse understands your cues before you decide to play.
Your horse should know enough to back up and move his/her hindquarters and front end when asked. You can use pressure with your hands or use a stick to move your horse around. Applying pressure in a rhythmic pattern is another way to get your horse to move as you like.
Once you and your horse are comfortable enough with the gestures, only then should you proceed with playing games. With time you will bond with your horse and have him moving like a veteran rider.
Keyhole race is a fun and straightforward game; it’s scored by time, but the kids often ignore the keeping time and focus on keeping their horse within the boundaries and turning quickly.
We use white powder stored from days of making baseball patterns to draw two parallel lines about six feet apart with a wide circle on one end. You can also draw the line with flour or make a pattern with cones to distinguish the shape.
Once you’ve completed the design, players race their horse from a designated starting point down the path and into the circle. They turn the horse around and run back to where they began. If any rider goes outside of the lines, they’re disqualified.
If you want, you can time each competitor to determine the winner. This game teaches balance and riding skills. It’s especially beneficial for pairs that compete in barrel racing.
You can also similarly play the flag race game. Just place a flag on top of a barrel and set up a starting line. The riders ride their horses to the barrel, and while circling the barrel, they snag the flag and race back to the starting line.
Our kids are relatively young, and they love being in charge. “Simon Says” allows them to dictate to others while stretching their imagination. In “Simon says,” one team (horse and rider) is designated Simon, and the others must follow his instructions.
Sitting on his horse in front of the group, Simon tells players what they must do. But the key is that he must start every instruction with “Simon Says.”
If Simon says, “Simon Says trot your horse,” you must trot your horse. However, if Simon says, “trot your horse,” without the preface, and a person trots off, they are eliminated from the game.
“Simon Says” is a fun game and teaches kids to pay attention.
Eggs and Spoon
Eggs and spoon is another racing game that you can play with your friends or siblings and their horses. This game is immensely more fun if you play with a group of people comfortable with their horses.
It would be best if you had a spacious area to set up the game. Place a barrel about fifty yards on one side of a field and a basket on the other. Contestants take off from the basket and ride to the barrel where eggs are placed on top.
Dismount and use a spoon to pick up an egg from the barrel and then lead your horse to the basket and drop the egg into it. Mount your horse and repeat the process until all eggs are in the basket.
The activity is quite challenging for the kids, getting up and down and pulling horses that try to stop and graze. It’s as much fun to watch as to participate in. You can also add small obstacles like hurdles or cones to make things more interesting.
Red Light, Green Light
Mark a starting line and a finish line about fifty yards apart. Line up the horses and have a designated person say “green light” and “red light.” When “green light” is announced, all the riders move toward the finish line and stop when “red light” is called out.
If a rider can’t stop his horse when “red light” is called, they must restart. Red Light Green Light is a fun game that also teaches kids to control their horses. You can vary the game by introducing more colors and change their meanings.
For example, use green to run, yellow to trot, and purple to walk. If you have too many horses, divide them into groups.
Games you can play with your horse.
Making a personalized obstacle course for your horse is another way to strengthen your bond and also to have some fun. Begin with something easy (small hurdles) and then add things as you get more confident with your horse.
Keep adding items like garbage bins, small barrels, plant pots, etc., to make the obstacle course more challenging. Increase the difficulty level as your horse keeps getting better.
Horses are naturally curious animals, so they love discovering these new things. Obstacle courses give them this opportunity and allow them to face new situations in a controlled environment.
It can work well to get them accustomed to items and situations they’re apprehensive about. Obstacles help your horse learn to relax, and they become better trail riding horses because of this experience.
You can also play this with other riders by timing the challenge. Each contestant rides their horse through the obstacle course without avoiding any. Whoever completes it the fastest is the winner.
Soccer Ball is sometimes called Mega Ball, but the ball isn’t a regular soccer ball that people play with. This ball is an inflatable ball about 25-inches that comes with a removable cover. Many trainers use this giant ball to develop a horse’s concentration.
Working with the ball is another way to spend time with your horse and break up your everyday routine. With the ball near you, you encourage your horse to nudge the ball. Each time it pushes the ball, you reward your horse.
Over time you can get your horse to move the ball in different directions and varying speeds. Ball play helps you to engage with your horse on the ground and is an excellent cerebral stimulant.
You can play this soccer ball game on your off riding days to discourage boredom, and it is another useful way to spend time together. It can be a perfect addition to any horse training curriculum and can help overcome tediousness.
The platform game is a training method to teach a horse to walk up a platform. This game is beneficial in many ways; if successful, it will help your horse load in a trailer more effortless and be more relaxed during trail rides.
It would be best to start with a broad platform that can easily fit all four of your horse’s feet; this helps your horse feel more secure. Fix the platform on level ground and have the animal walk across.
As it gets more comfortable, raise one end of the platform and walk your horse onto the platform. Adjust it to different heights and angles to keep challenging your horse.
If your horse has problems stepping on steps, start with a low platform, and advance steadily to a higher platform. Ask your horse to back up and step off the platform. This method helps horses get used to stepping off of trailers.
Playing games with horses can be fun and exciting. But make sure things don’t get out of hand. Keep an eye on the kids because horses don’t spell out in words whether they like the game or not.
But if you notice them acting up more than usual, then change the game until the horse is more comfortable. The games also work as training sessions to help your horse become more confident and obedient.
These simple games can be the start of a beautiful and lifelong bond between you and your horse. Spending quality time with your horse is suitable for both of you.
Why not throw in some games and make things more fun? You can use these games as a bonding experience with your horse. Playing games with animals- any animals, not just horses- requires a lot of patience. You need to be calm and approach the animal with confidence.
If you don’t have an established relationship with your horse, it might be a little tricky at first to play games. But trust us, it gets easier with time. Start with some simple games and then move onto more complex ones.
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Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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