The leaves are changing colors, the weather is crisp, the apples are ripe…it’s Fall! Spice up your lessons by putting an Autumn twist on your activities. The following is a list I’ve compiled of Autumn games you can use to practice riding skills. Some can take up a whole lesson, others can be used as stations around the arena. Most of them I’ve taken from school teacher autumn game websites, and you can easily figure out how to adapt the game to horseback!
BEFORE PLAYING ANY GAME
Note: before using any game in your lesson, make sure the horses are desensitized to all items used!
BOBBING FOR APPLES – Have the horses bob for apples in a water bucket! Or make your volunteers do it!
PASS THE APPLE / GOURD / PUMPKIN – Make this like a relay race. (Stewart)
AUTUMN OBSTACLE COURSE – “Set up hay bales to jump or climb over, pumpkins to run around, strings of apples to crawl underneath, seed-filled balloons to pop, and more.” (Stewart)
CORN TOSS – “Create different sizes circles out of apples. Have the kids line up behind a line and fling ears of decorative Indian corn toward the circles. The child with the most ears inside the apple circles wins.” (Stewart)
SCARECROW DASH – “Stock up on over-sized plaid shirts, goofy pants, floppy hats and any other silly clothing that a scarecrow might wear. Make piles containing one of each item. The number of piles is determined either by the number of kids or teams participating. Line up kids and let the game begin! The children run to the pile, put on the outfit, and dart back to the starting line.” (Stewart)
APPLE GRAB – “Similar to Bobbing for Apples…Hang a string up between trees or use a clothesline. Tie some more string to apple stems and hang the apples from the clothesline. The kids can then attempt to grab an apple just by using their teeth.” (Stewart) – I would recommend having the students woah, grab an apple with their hand, and walk on. Progress to doing it at a walk with no woah.
PIE EATER – Like tag but one rider is the pie, and the other is the pie eater. The pie eater tries to catch the pie and eat it. Tagging can be done by getting within 3 feet of the other rider, or however else you determine it. (Inspired by Shelby)
BEAN BAG TOSS – “Use a large piece of cardboard or a large, unfolded box…. Cut one or two leaf shapes out of the cardboard. Paint the cardboard orange, red and yellow. When dry have the children throw bean bags through the leaf shaped holes.” (Shelby)
GOURD RACE – like the egg and spoon race but with a little gourd! (Shelby)
RING TOSS – Like a regular ring toss but you toss it around a gourd, pumpkin, or corn, which you can even assign different point values to. (Shelby)
FIND THE PUMPKIN – Supplies: Ten pieces of white paper, Five pieces of yellow paper, Five pieces of orange paper, A crayon, Scissors. Directions: Draw ten white pumpkins, five yellow pumpkins, and five orange pumpkins. (Or adjust the numbers to reflect the number of you group). Cut out all the pumpkins. Decorate each pumpkin with a funny face. Write the number 1 on the backs of the white pumpkins. Write the number 5 on the backs of the yellow pumpkins. Write the number 10 on the backs of the orange pumpkins. Hide all of the pumpkins [around the arena]. Youth try to find as many pumpkins as you can before the adult says “Stop!” [or turns off the music]. Players will add up the numbers of collected pumpkins. The player with the most points wins! This can also be played in teams. (Shelby)
PUMPKIN BOWLING – “Supplies: 3 small pumpkins, 30 empty 2 liter clear soda bottles (less if your group is smaller!), a bag of gravel or pebbles placed in bottom of bottles. Add about a cup of sand or pebbles in each bottle so they will stand without falling over. … The small pumpkins are the bowling balls.” (Shelby)
PUMPKIN BOCCE BALL – “Object of Game: Roll a pumpkin closest to the big pumpkin. You need a large pumpkin. Also purchase several miniature or round sugar pumpkins. To play: Place the big pumpkin several feet away. Give each player a small pumpkin. Each player rolls (No tossing or throwing) their pumpkin and tries to be the closest to the big pumpkin. The player closest wins,” (Shelby)
THROW PENNIES IN THE PUMPKIN – “Carve out a pumpkin (Do NOT make it a Jack-O-Lantern); line the inside with plastic or aluminum foil. Make the top opening large. Option is to use small plastic pumpkins which are quicker and not messy! To play the game—place the pumpkins a couple feet away. Give each player about ten pennies…and try to get them in! Each time one gets in–a point is earned… (You could also use a plastic Halloween pumpkin container)” (Shelby)
PUMPKIN WALK – like a cake walk but use real pumpkins or cardboard cutout pumpkins on the ground (instead of chairs). “Use fall themed music such as “Turkey In The Straw” or “Jimmy Cracked Corn”.” (Shelby)
MR. PUMPKIN HEAD – “Do you have Mr. Potato Head game pieces???! The kids can have some Fall fun using them with small pumpkins! Using a smallish to medium sized pumpkin, poke some holes where the eyes, nose and mouth would be (include hat and ears). Have the children decorate “Mr. Pumpkin Head” using Mr. Potato Head pieces.” (Shelby) You can turn this into a scavenger hunt for the pumpkin head parts. Use your creativity for incorporating riding skills.
FLOATING PUMPKINS – Write on the bottom of mini pumpkin gourds different riding tasks to complete (such as trot the long wall, walk a 10 meter circle, etc.) and float them in a bucket of water on a barrel, for them to woah by, pick out a pumpkin, and perform the task, until they have done them all. Or just have them in a bucket without water, if it’s too cold. (Inspired by Shelby)
APPLE TOSS RACE – each kid gets an apple, throws it, “walks on” to it and “woahs” by it, the volunteer picks it up for them, and they do it again, until they reach the finish line. (Inspired by Shelby)
OFF HORSE GAMES
Do some things to give the barn an Autumn feel!
THANKFUL FOR – Make a bunch of cut out pumpkins and have each kid write what they are thankful for on them, then hang them on a special wall, or on the horse’s stalls. (inspired by Thankful Fours)
GUESS THE CANDY CORN – “Take a fall-theme container, such as a harvest bucket, and fill it up with specified number of candy corn pieces. Let the children guess how many pieces are in the container. The closest to the right number wins the container and the treats. A perfect way to end a successful outdoor fall party!” (Shelby) Perhaps the winning kid can get a free lesson or special treat for their favorite horse.
Stewart, Maggie. “15 Fun Fall and Harvest Outdoor Party Games for Children.” http://voices.yahoo.com/15-fun-fall-harvest-outdoor-party-games-children-476244.html
Shelby, Barbara. “Autumn Themed Games” & “Apple Themed Games”. www.kidactivities.net
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Please add to this list! What autumn games do you like to play with your students?
(Note: Halloween games soon to come!)
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!