Lesson Plan: Matching Cards & Pole Weaving Activity

Once you have a set of matching cards, there are so many uses…here is another one!


  • 1 barrel
  • 4 cones setup in square
  • 4 weaving poles
  • Matching cards (for resources see Matching Card Games post) – one set on the barrel, one set on the poles
  • velcro or tape – one set of cards is already attached (one on each pole); add an “empty spot” below each card where the student will attach the card’s partner (such as velcro or a tape loop)

Arena Setup:

card matching

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Example Lesson Plan for Steering

  1. Tack Check
  2. Mount
  3. Warmups
    1. arm circles (for steering)
    2. shoulder twists (for steering)
    3. air punches (for steering)
    4. ride no stirrups (for balance and stablizing core when steering)
  4. Tack Check
  5. Review Steering
    1. verbal explanation
    2. visual example using your own hands
    3. physical example using hand over hand
  6. Practice: Matching Cards & Pole Weaving Activity
    1. “Meet me at the white barrel”
    2. Explain activity: “whoa at the barrel, pick a card, whoa between the cones, weave the poles until you find the matching card, then whoa and put it on the pole with its partner”
    3. Pick first card – options:
      1. hold up the cards and pick one from your hands
      2. have student ask for it specifically (you say: “I don’t know what “that one” means, use your words to explain to me which card”)
      3. have student ask sidewalker to hand it to them (practice social skills)
      4. precision whoa (you say: “can you reach it? no? Hm. What should you do?” prompt them to take 2 steps closer, circle around, etc.)
    4. Determine who holds on to the card – options:
      1. student (if capable or has saddle pouch)
      2. sidewalker (have them ask)
    5. Walk on
    6. Whoa in cones (prompt to get all 4 feet in)
    7. Walk on
    8. Weave poles until find matching card
    9. Whoa by matching card’s pole and put card on the pole (may have to work on precision whoa – see above)
    10. Repeat until all cards gone
  7. Progression – options:
    1. Leader hold: normal > 3 ft away > unclip & spot > spot 3 ft away > stand near poles > stand in middle of arena
    2. Prompts: physical > verbal > none
    3. Speed: walk > trot the pattern
    4. etc.
  8. Cool Down & Review
    1. ride the pattern backwards, but stop at each pole to collect the cards then deliver them to the barrel (helps you clean up for your next lesson!)
    2. 1 lap no stirrups while review steering and how the lesson went
  9. Dismount

You can use this pattern for many skills – Steering, Whoa, Walk On, etc. – and use it all day long! If you have some older riders who aren’t into the card matching thing, just use it as a pattern and throw in a trot on the long wall. Enjoy!


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!