List of Games for Therapeutic Riding

This is a great list of games from a recent new resource I found. Enjoy!

Ball toss

  • Game: place targets on the ground with different numbers. Riders are given balls, which they may toss at the targets, while halted or walking, must be 5 feet away. Scores can be totaled for individual riders or teams. Riders can set personal records to improve upon over several lessons.
  • Benefits: object control, following directions, gross motor skills, spatial awareness, cooperative play

Bean Bag balance

  • Game: place bean bag _________, the last to drop it wins
  • (place: on helmet, between elbow and side, between ear and shoulder, between saddle and lower leg)
  • Benefits: control, proprioception, body part recognition, hand eye coord, antagonistic muscle use

Bean Bag toss

  • Game: toss bean bags into hula hoop or baskets in front of the riders, whoever gets the most in wins
  • Benefits: object control, hand eye coord, counting skills, turn taking


  • Game: pan is filled with sand and bones, riders dig up the number of bones as directed

Build a farm

  • Game: Cut a farm scene from felt to be placed on a felt board (or use a magnetic set). Riders each have pieces they place on it in a logical sequence.
  • Benefits: sequencing, lateral skills, balance, strength, endurance, fine motor skills

Dice roll

  • Game: riders line up at one end of the arena, take turns rolling the dice, then add up the numbers and walk that number of steps, the team reaching the other end first wins
  • Benefits: number sequencing, transitions, taking turns, gross motor skills

Dismount race

  • Game: at end of lesson, rider to opposite end of arena, turn the same direction to face the start/finish line, halt, dismount correctly, run up their stirrups, thank their volunteers and horses, the first to finish wins
  • Benefit: independence, gross motor skills, sequencing, steering skills, balance

Hanging the wash

  • Game: string a line painted with sections of different colors, have a bucket of matching clothes pins, and clothes for each rider. Each one selects a clothes pin and one item of clothing. One rider at a time hangs his clothing in the corresponding section of string. The first team to complete the task of matching the colors of the clothes to the colors of string wins.
  • Benefits: Lateral bending, balance, strength, identification of colors, motor planning, following directions.

Hats galore

  • Game: everyone chooses a hat to put over their helmet, practice taking it off, back on, put on arm, leg, etc.
  • Benefits: tactile awareness, spatial awareness, concepts of above, below, over, under

Hokey Pokey

  • Benefits: verbal skills, body parts ID, isolate body parts, socialization, rhythm


  • Game: use educational/horse items (grooming tools, riding equipment, shapes, letters, numbers, etc.) – hide one set around the arena, and the other set is in a bucket. Rider chooses and item from the bucket, then rides around the arena to find the matching item. Winners are the first to find the item correctly, or everyone wins by finding the correct match.
  • Benefits: verbalization, identification, steering skills, balance, stretching

Obstacle race

  • Game: include turns, change directions, over poles, etc.
  • Benefits: steering skills, sequencing, immediate recall, balance, spatial awareness

Red Light Green Light

  • Discuss appropriate (gentle) treatment of horses
  • Benefits: balance, receptive language, coordination, socialization, competitive interaction


  • Game: pass the horse, baton, ball, etc.
  • Benefits: balance, lateral skills, cooperative play, coordination, socialization, competitive interaction

Ride a buck

  • Game: rider puts $1 bill under thigh or seat, walks to one end of arena, turns (all students turn the same direction), then walk or trot back, those still with the bills are the winners
  • Benefits: posture, balance, deep seat, strength, endurance, determination

Rings over Poles

  • Game: ride to pole, place ring over pole, ride back to finish line, in team or individual
  • Benefits: balance, steering skills, follow directions

Scavenger hunt

  • Game: ride must find items on list, may be theme oriented
  • Benefits: short/long term memory, expressive/receptive language, object recognition, fine/gross motor skills

Shadow Tag

  • Game: “It” must tag another rider by making his horse walk on the shadow of another’s horse, have them count to 10 then “ready or not, here I come”, (best played in early morning or later afternoon when shadows are long)
  • Benefits: social interaction, verbalization skills, reining skills

Simon Says (or Simon Does for the hearing impaired)

  • Game: any movement preceded by “Simon Says” is repeated by the riders, or else disqualified
  • Benefits: receptive language, motor planning, balance, opportunity to increase horse knowledge and concepts

Slow race

  • Game: whoever crosses the finish last wins, horses may not stop or circle
  • Benefits: gentle use of rein/leg aids, lets slow teams win

Tack race

  • Game: race to spot, identify, and retrieve a specific piece of tack
  • Benefits: balance, knowledge, lateral skills, receptive/expressive language

Traffic control

  • Game: place road signs, orange cones, etc. as an obstacle course
  • Benefits: sight words, sequencing, balance, transitions, steering skills

Treasure hunt

  • Game: make a list out of words or symbols for the riders to follow on a treasure map
  • Benefits: interpretation, sequencing, balance, strength, transitions, steering skills

Horse race

  • Game; race to spot, identify and retrieve paper horse by number, letter, color, shape or markings. Riders can collect them in an envelope. Numbers, letters or colored can be brailled or made recognizable with puff paint.
  • Benefits: identification, comprehension, lateral skills, directional skills, balance, receptive/expressive language, number recognition

Water game

  • Game: empty buckets at each end of the arena, give each rider a cup of water, ride across arena and put water in bucket then ride back to teammates, team with most water in its bucket wins
  • Benefits: hand eye coord, gross and fine motor skills, follow directions, orientation, spatial awareness


  • Game: Remove plastic vegetables from bucket, identify, plant in bucket with sand


Source: Fran Joswick Therapeutic Riding Center “Teaching Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship”. This is an old manual I found in my barn’s library. I could not find any versions for sale online. I believe they used it for their instructor training.


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!


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