Here is a compilation list of games I’ve come across in the past year that sounded neat but had nowhere else to go. They are not whole lesson plans, just brief descriptions so you get the gist of it and go off inspired! Enjoy!
Darts Ball Toss
Ball toss onto Velcro dart board (such as this one). One barn I worked at had this hanging from the ceiling, and kids loved it. We would use it as a reward, for practicing counting, for practicing hand eye coordination while tossing, or to practice halting and backing up (for every toss that made it, back up 3 steps).
The Spy chooses an object that is visible to everyone, and gives a hint by saying “I spy with my little eye something…” with a clue such as: “that begins with the letter ___”, “that is the color ___”, or “that sounds like ___”. Then everyone guesses, and the first player to guess correctly gets to be the new spy. Use this game to have your rider guess which place in the arena to steer to and halt, or what obstacles to steer over, or what objects to collect. Incorporate volunteers as player or the Spy.
Collect animals and place them in matching buckets.
Collect animals and place them in appropriate homes or habitats.
Spread grooming tools around the arena, then have the rider collect them in the order they are used to groom the horse.
Draw a card from a bucket, then find its matching card in the arena. Use any kid’s play or matching cards.
Deliver horse photos to the correct buckets. Deliver pictures of the barn’s horses to the bucket with their name on it. Deliver pictures of horses to buckets with breed names or colors.
Get colored laundry baskets, or put colored cones in the laundry baskets, and have matching colored balls. Riders must toss the balls in the matching baskets. Add writing or thinking activities to it – directions on the balls, specific places to halt, etc.
Hang the Laundry
Hand up laundry items on a clothesline. Match colors or clothing types. Practice counting. Throw in random items – calendar pictures, shoes, etc.
Rope Ring Toss
Create a set of upright pegs or posts and place it on a barrel, or use cones on barrels. Provide a bunch of rope rings. Riders must ride to the barrel and throw a rope ring onto the beg or cone. Can be used as part of an obstacle course, or on its own. (Contributed by Nan!)
Novelty Pegs and Clips
Create your own novelty pegs and clips using different materials. Ideas include making animals, bugs, flowers, cars, using stickers, making different textures, changing the shape and size and color. Use them for motivation, matching, reward, grooming (put them in the mane to make it pretty), fine motor skills, language, color, hand eye coordination…and so on. (Contributed by Janelle!)
Poles and Ring Shapes
Instead of the typical place/toss a ring over/onto a pole, use poles of different sizes and heights, and use rings of different sizes and shapes (hula hoops, squares, etc.). The size tells you what shape to put on.
Create stalls out of poles around the arena. When the music is playing, the riders walk or trot. When the music stops, they find a stall to halt in. There should be one less stall than rider. The rider who can’t get a stall sits out for one round. Or keep removing stalls until there is a winner. For added difficulty, create the stalls from 3 poles with an opening on one side only, or throw in a game of Simon Says while the music is playing. For easier set up, just use two poles they must halt between, or use a cone to mark the spot to halt.
Toss a ball between partners, standing side by side on their horses. With each successful catch, back up and do it farther away. Once they get the hang of it, incorporate tossing the ball into drill team patterns in which they stop to throw the balls.
Write a sentence in large words on paper. Cut up the words and put them around the arena – put them in easter eggs, paper bags, etc. for added manipulation. Have the rider collect the words – depending on what you’re working on, they can ride around and collect them, or set up obstacles to do between each one. When they have collected all the words, have them put the sentence together on a poster board. They can decorate it and post it a the barn.
Use interlocking tile mats; on the back of each one put letters. Create a target with colors that match the tile mats. Spread the tile mats around the arena, and keep the target in one place. Have the rider toss a bean bag onto the target and identify the color it landed on. Have the rider go find the tile of the same color and bring it back to you. Identify the letter on the tile. They must tell you a certain number of horse or tack related words that start with that letter (you choose how many). Have them work with their team of volunteers to think of words.
No Talking Lesson
Exactly that…not talking! This can help them work on visual attention and following directions since the rider must focus on you as you communicate nonverbally.
The Mummy Game
Have a volunteer stand in the center of the arena holding a roll of toilet paper, and the rider holding the start of the roll. The goal is to ride their horse in a circle around the volunteer wrapping them up in TP without breaking the TP. Instead of a volunteer, you can use jump standards, barrels, etc.
Get some horribly tacky clothes from a thrift shop, and put them in boxes or suitcases. Make sure to use clothing that is safe to put on while riding, and to desensitize the horses first. The riders must race down, choose and put on an item, then race back.
Barrel & Stake Race
Set up a couple barrels around the arena with stakes or flags set in buckets on top. As a race, rider must make a turn around the first barrel and pick up the stake, then depositing it in the second barrel, with each pass.
Place buckets on barrels. Rider weaves down the row, turns the last bucket over, and weaves back to the finish line.
Make sure your riders have a shadow (outdoor arena, time of day, etc.). Designate one rider who is “it”. Ride around until “it” touches the other rider’s shadow with their horse’s hoof, says “You’re it!” or “Tagged!” along with the horse’s name they just tagged (so everyone now knows who the new “it” is). This may be best an evening game when shadows are long enough the riders don’t have to get too close.
You will need brooms and a beach ball or something similar. Use the brooms to push the ball at a walk. Make it challenging by setting up cones to weave through while maneuvering the ball, or play a game of soccer, or work up to the trot or canter.
Clip clothespins on horse’s mane and have rider stretch forward to take them off one at a time at the walk. Or, have rider clip clothespins on to horse’s mane and then take them off, one at a time, at the walk. Paint/marker the clothespins different colors so you can call out to your rider/s which particular one to take off.
While riding at the walk with a leader, have the rider drop the reins and catch a ball you or the sidewalkers toss to them. Do equally from both sides. Use different types/sizes of balls. For added difficulty have them do this while riding backward.
- Individual contributors (listed by their name)
- The Instructor Think Tank session at the 2014 PATH Intl. Conference
- PATH Intl. Community Connections Instructor thread for ADHD
- Horseforum.com. “Games on Horseback.” http://www.horseforum.com/horse-talk/games-horseback-84998/
- Yahoo Answers. “Fun Games on Horseback?” http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080101161133AAtzdMD
- HorseTopia.com. “Games on Horseback.” http://forum.horsetopia.com/general-horse-advice/84182-games-horseback.html
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!