Gymkhana Lesson 4: The Flag Race & The Egg and Spoon Class

This is another example of using the same arena set up for 2 back to back classes. Many instructors teach the same pattern class after class. But sometimes you want to use different patterns, such as to teach different skills. In this case my Student 1 has an hour lesson that overlaps two half hour lessons, and I didn’t want Student 1 to get bored doing the same pattern twice. So for the first half hour I taught Student 1 and 2 the flag race to work on trotting, then had Student 1 stay on while I dismounted the Student 2 and mounted Student 3, and lastly taught Student 1 and 3 neck reining using the Egg and Spoon Class.

Arena Setup

  • 4 barrels at one end of the arena, evenly spaced
  • 4 cones at the other end of the arena, spaced to be 2 start/finish lines, one for each pair of barrels
  • 4 buckets filled halfway with sand (I used 2 different colors so the 2 students knew which was theirs)
  • 2 flags, placed in 1 bucket of each color (some shows just use a short dowl with orange tape on the end)
  • 2 big spoons, 2 small spoons, 2 eggs (I used plastic eggs filled with arena dirt, but you can use any type of egg that’s safe) – I put them on the barrels so I wouldn’t have to have them in my pockets, and it’s good practice to have the student reach for things (those are the little white dots on the picture below)
  • Note: the same arena setup below can be used for the flag race, the egg and spoon class, and weaving cones and barrels!

First Lesson: The Flag Race

Lesson Plan

  1. Mount
  2. Tack Check
  3. Warm Up – walk on wall and rides a circle at each letter for 1 lap in each direction (to prepare for circling barrels), or woah at each letter (to prepare for stopping at the barrels)
  4. Tack Check
  5. Teach Skill or Remind of old skill we’re working on – such as woahing precisely by the barrel, or keeping their eyes up, etc., depending on their personal goals.
  6. The Flag Race – Explain that in the flag race the rider starts between the cones, goes to the first barrel, stops, picks the flag out of the bucket, goes to the second barrel, stops, puts the flag in the bucket, and goes back to the start between the two cones. Show a picture, draw it on the ground, have a volunteer run it, etc. Point out that each student has their own 2 barrels, buckets, and flag (in my drawing one is green and one is blue), so they will be doing the pattern at the same time.
  7. Practice – Each student goes at the same time. Give praises and corrections as needed.
  8. Progression – remove verbal prompts for pattern memory, take away leader/sidewalker assistance, take away the halt when dealing with the flag and bucket so the student must do it while walking by, add a trot on strait stretches then for the whole thing if the student is advanced enough, etc.
  9. Cool Down – choose one depending on the student’s goals
  10. Dismount

Example objectives for this lesson:

  • The student will demonstrate woahing their horse directly next to a barrel with no leader assistance or verbal prompts 3/5 times.
  • The studtent will demonstrate direct rein steering with a leader and no verbal prompts for 75% of the lesson.
  • The student will ride a 4 step pattern without a leader and minimal verbal prompts 2x.

Additional info for the Flag Race lesson:

  • “Any stopping, leaving the course pattern, striking your horse with the flag, dropping the flag or the failure to pick up the flag on the first try or properly deposit the flag into the third barrel, is cause for disqualification” (Squidoo)
  • The faster one rides the pattern, the harder it is to make the flag stay in the bucket. Teach your students that speed isn’t always the only way to win this race. “Many times people who slowly cantered the course, or even trotted, and took time to ensure that the flag didn’t bounce out, have placed in the ribbons due to faster contestants disqualifying.” (Squidoo)
  • This article How to Win a Flag Race explains the best way to hold the flag for the fastest and most efficient way to put it in the bucket
  • Different regions do different types of flag races. For a few other versions see  Squidoo’s Flag Race Page.
  • One such version of the Flag Race is the “The Indiana Flag Race”. You can use this pattern instead of the one above, or add the third barrel during the progression part of your lesson (to progess to an extra pattern step or longer amount of trotting).

Source: J-Six Equestion Center Gymkhana Patterns

Second Lesson: The Egg and Spoon Class

Lesson Plan

  1. Mount
  2. Tack Check
  3. Warm Up – walk on wall with leaders attached and do arm and leg exercises
  4. Tack Check
  5. Teach Skill – neck reinsteering
  6. Practice – walk on the wall, weave the barrels and cones
  7. The Egg & Spoon Class– as students walk on the rail, explain the egg and spoon class. Have the riders each stop by a barrel with an egg and spoon on it, and pick it up. First use the large spoons.
  8. Practice – walk on the wall, weave the barrels and cones. When a student drops an egg have them woah, and either you or the sidewalker returns it to them (remember it is preferable that you stay in the center of the arena, but your sidewalker may not be able to leave the rider unattended to pick up the egg)
  9. Progression – woah by the barrels and trade their big spoon for a small spoon, add circling the barrels and cones, add trotting. Keep track of how many times each student drops an egg.
  10. Cool Down – walk a lap around the arena riding without stirrups
  11. Dismount

Example objectives for this lesson:

  • The student will demonstrate neck rein steering for 90% of the lesson with minimal verbal prompts and with a leader and sidewalker.
  • The student will sit quietly on their horse for 90% of the lesson with minimal verbal prompts and with a leader and sidewalker.


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!

2 thoughts on “Gymkhana Lesson 4: The Flag Race & The Egg and Spoon Class

  1. Another good use of ideas……..thank you for the set up diagrams too, makes the explanation very clear and easy to follow.

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