Candy Cane Game

Let’s get some winter cheer into this first week of December!

The Candy Cane Game

Arena Setup

  • 4 snowmen posted at the 4 corners of the arena
  • 3 snowflakes posted around the arena
  • 4 Christmas trees on upright poles spaced for weaving, on the quarterline
  • 3 ground poles spaces for walking or trotting over, on the other quarterline
  • 1 barrel at one end of the arena, with a Christmas bag with 4 candycanes with riding skills/activities written on them. Skills include: trot between the snowmen, weave the christmas trees, two point over the poles, whoa at each snowflake. (I wrote them on construction paper and hot glued them to the candycanes)
  • 4 stockings at the other end of the arena
  • click here to download the pdf of the images I used

candycane game

The Game

  1. Rider whoas at the barrel and picks a candy cane from the bag.
  2. Rider reads it (or has sidewalker help them read it). (ex: whoa at the snowflakes)
  3. Rider identifies where the items are in the arena. (ex: rider points to where the snowflakes are)
  4. Rider performs the skill.
  5. Rider takes the candycane to a stocking and puts it in.

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Additional Ideas

  • When rider does all 4 tasks they get to choose a prize (necklace, candy, etc.)
  • Rider can feed their horse a candy cane treat at the end
  • If more than 1 rider at a time, make duplicate candy cane sets using different colors and have each rider stick to one color.
  • If rider cannot perform the skill, modify it (ex: two point over the poles becomes ride over the poles)
  • Do other things like deliver the candy canes to the Christmas trees, or collect the snowflakes
  • Sing holiday songs!
  • Instead of candy cane skills, use different horse treats and deliver them to stockings with their horses’ names on them.
  • Use the candy canes during warm up exercises! Place them on the horse’s mane, rear, stirrups, etc. so the rider must reach to collect them. (pictured below)
  • You can even incorporate a story about delivering the candy canes through a blizzard (lean over to huddle with their horse at each snowflake), over the river (two point over poles), find your way through the forest (weave the tree poles), and don’t let the snowmen steal the candy cane (trot away!).
  • After the lesson feed the horses candy canes from a bucket!

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Things to work on

  • skills – steering, whoa, walk on, trot, balance
  • social skills – asking for help reaching the bag, candy canes, stockings, etc.
  • coordination – hold the reins while reaching for a candy cane
  • critical thinking – identify where the items are in the arena, decide which stocking to whoa at


P.S. Congratulations to the blog, it has reached 150 followers! Hooray!


Update 2015:

This game was featured in PATH Intl’s STRIDES Winter 2015 Magazine! Double Hooray!


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 judgment!

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