Nan’s Games and Activities

A sweet reader from Australia sent me a collection of riding games and activities she put together. She gave me permission to post them all, along with pictures, and I am SO excited to share them with you! Without further ado, I present to you…

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“Games & Activities on Horseback, For Nervous and Beginning Riders”

By Nan Catmur, of Nan’s Riding School

Based on Adult Riding Club and Pony Club Activities in Australia.

Ball in Bucket/Crate

  • rider has to pick up a ball from a helper, ride to far end of arena and drop in into a bucket or crate.
  • Ideas: hold a billycan or basket of 4 balls, have 4 buckets/crates- one@ each corner of arena. Rider drops one ball in each as he goes around arena, or rides a certain path before dropping the ball i.e. must always come down the centre line.
  • Skittles make good articles to complete this activity too – make it harder by having them stand the skittle on an upturned crate!

Balance Balls

  • rider has to pick up a ball from helper, ride to a specific cone in the arena and balance the ball on top of cone (tennis balls work well)
  • Ideas: have a series of 4-6 cones down the centre line, give the rider a ball, one at a time to put on each cone in turn.
  • Make it harder: Give the rider a can of four balls and has to place the balls one at a time on designated cones.

Rings on Cones

  • using plastic quoit [tossing] rings(6 coloured) rider has to put them over a cone on a crate at specific areas around arena- e.g. corners, down long side, at letter markers.
  • Ideas: Riders carry all 6 rings and complete in a sequence as directed by leader, or must ride a specific path, i.e. down centre line… each time they deliver a ring.
  • As the riders get more confident put cones on ground to make placing rings more demanding.


  • alternate versions include Cone on Cone


  • and Cone on Crate

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  • rider using a small aquarium net has to ride a specific path to the end of the arena where plastic coloured balls are in a bucket of water, on a crate. Once at the bucket the rider has to ‘fish” out a ball (or harder: specific coloured ball), carry it carefully back to 2nd bucket and “deliver it” into that bucket.
  • Add a trot to make it harder…or go a specific track…



  • The Sticks game has the same set up as for the Ball in Bucket/Crate game but this time using small hollow tubes/sticks/batons etc….
  • Idea: If using hollow tubes, try to thread them onto another stick/pole set up around the area. These can also be used for relay races (batons) and don’t forget that the inner cardboard tubes from toilet rolls or cling wrap etc are good “tubes” to use.

Flags with a difference

  • make a set of flag poles from bamboo garden stakes and champagne corks. Use large cones to be placers- they have holes in the top. Set cones either in a straight line down the centre of arena or as wanted, i.e. on the corners. Rider carries one at a time and places it the designated cone in the arena.
  • Ideas: to finish activity get the rider to pick up the flags again, either one at a time or try several, one after another. A proper flag pattern made from material could be added to make flag more authentic.

Postie Game

  • put 8 ice cream containers @ rider height around arena at dressage letters. Have sets of the letters, on cards, laminated, for durability and the rider has to deliver the letters to the appropriate mail box. The leader may say a specific order, or one at a time, always coming back to X, to finish, the rider has to collect the mail from the boxes… balls or corks or small soft toys … whatever is unusual as a “parcel” to deliver. The younger riders might like to carry a “bag” with the mail in it to deliver….
  • [Note: this could also be a great way to teach the arena/dressage letter locations]

Balance Activities

  • using a badminton racquet, get the rider to balance articles on it as they ride a specific route.
  • Ideas: Rider can carry article to specific place and drop item into a crate or bucket at that place. Things good to balance are: sponges, plastic/metal cups, balls of different weights. (watch light things on windy days….)
  • As a relay race, you can have the riders try to pass the article to the next rider!! Takes some careful thinking!!

Egg and Spoon

  • the normal idea of balancing an egg on a spoon for a certain route etc.. except use balls of different weights, sizes that fit the spoons(tablespoons are best) or apples or potatoes.
  • can make it harder by specifying pace, i.e. walk to deliver egg and trot home etc..

Soccer Pass

  • need 5 cones set up at one end of arena either on crates or ground, depending on rider experience. Rider carries a soccer ball to a marker and tries to knock down as many cones as can. Skittles can also be used as targets, and smaller balls. Have 2 or 3 balls available and rider has to ride back to collect next ball etc…
  • could be a tag game if more than one rider


Basketball Game

  • Needs a kids hoop and backboard at one of the arena, can have a crate under net to catch ball. Same ideas as for Soccer Game except this time must score a basket to gain a point. Ball can fall into crate-5 points, on the ground-3 points etc..
  • Can be played as a team event. Maybe have two hoops set up, one at each end.

Golf Game

  • need kiddies plastic golf set and small plastic balls.
  • Rider has to knock balls off cones set up around arena.
  • Rider has to hit ball through specific goals around arena to gain points
  • Rider has to get hole in one by getting ball in bucket

Beginning Polocrosse with Strainers

  • need at least two microwave plastic food stainers and several light balls.
  • Act 1; Carry ball around arena without dropping
  • Act 2: toss ball and catch as going around arena
  • Act 3: carry ball and toss into crate at certain positions around arena
  • Act 4: Practice, at halt, catching a ball being thrown to rider
  • Act 5: Try to throw and catch a ball, at halt, between riders
  • Act 6: Try to throw and catch at a walk/ trot etc….
  • Ideas: can be extended as ability increases. Also, strainer could be then cable tied to a bamboo stake to make a simple Polocrosse like pole and all activities repeated. (will need an unmounted helper/s)

Grip Ball

  • Using normal Grip Ball equipment, but try to throw and catch mounted. Will need unmounted helper.

Beanbag balance

  • Rider has to complete directed activities balancing a beanbag on head, or carrying it on outstretched arm, under chin, under bottom, etc….


  • Need two plastic or metal cups and some “water’. Rider carriers the cups, one in each hand and as directed pours water from one to another as horse is lead around.
  • Ideas: Fill one up and hold out to side, or above head, or half fill both and hold as aeroplanes, or above head, or straight out in front.

Billycan Fun

  • Use Billycans or plastic honey tubs with handles. Rider has to fill can from one bucket and carry water to second bucket and empty into it. (and continue for a time limit, to an amount marked on bucket is reached..) A helper may be needed to fill the can for inexperienced riders!!
  • Pace can be specified as the riders become more competent.

Hopper Fun

  • needs several kiddy hopper balls with handles. Set up 4 or 6 crates around arena with a hopper in every 2nd crate. Riders pick up and deliver it to next crate etc.
  • Beginners can just pick up and ride around a specific course.
  • Make it into a “Follow the Leader”- the riders must stay one crate behind as one delivers the following rider picks up

Scavenger Hunt

  • This is like a traditional hunt, except that the articles are placed @ points around arena and round yard, (& riding paddock if riders are more competent). The rider is given a list of articles to find, and a bag to put them in.
  • Make an obstacle course to make it more interesting.

Obstacle Courses

  • Incorporate bending, barrels, flag fun, any game ideas etc…
  • Use arena, round yard and open paddocks as part of the course. (depend on rider ability)


Sword & Quoits [rings]

  • Set up 6 cardboard cylinders as quoit holders on 3 cones of the 2 long sides of the arena. Using toy swords, riders have to pick up a quoit and drop it into a crate, either next to cone or at end of longside. (can stop or do it at a walk)
  • Harder: pick up all 3 and drop it at the end of the arena into crate. Or pick up all 6!!

Tunnel Race

  • Students ride to a specific point in the arena, dismount, crawl through a tunnel, (helper needed to hold pony), remount and ride home, through start/finish cones. Could be done as a relay race. Add lead pony to tunnel, crawl through, remount and ride home. The tunnel could also be incorporated into an obstacle course. (Not on a windy day – it might blow away!)

Move that Mug

  • Need 5 poles and 2 mugs. Set up poles in a line, mug on 1st and 3rd pole. Rider rides to pole 1 takes mug and puts on pole 2, rides up around pole 5 and reverses mug position (Can add mug on pole 3 to go on 4) Must go through start finish cones.

Bottle Race

  • Need 2 bottles (plastic) and 3 crates/barrels. Rider starts carrying a bottle. Puts it on middle crate, rides to end crate and picks up bottle, weaves back to first crate and delivers it. (Can be used as a relay race)

More Flag Fun

  • Need two cones, large, and 4 lags. Rider carries flag to top cone, places it in hole, rides back, picks up 2nd flag etc….. can be done as a relay.

Litter Game

  • Rider carrying a bamboo stake, rides to a point in the arena, picks up a piece of litter (plastic bottle!) carries it back to bin and hands over pole to next rider…. or continues until all 4 bottles picked up.

Thanks so much Nan for sharing your games with us!

Do YOU have any games to share? I’d love to feature them! Please send them to me via the contact me page.


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!

One thought on “Nan’s Games and Activities

  1. I hope that these are useful….. 🙂 Just a bit excited to see them “posted”….. enjoy!
    Happy Riding, always!!

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