Feed the Horses Activity and Lesson Plan

Here is a nice lesson that I watched a long time ago, back when I was in instructor training. I found it in my notes of things to blog and want to share it because it’s an example of a lesson that doesn’t follow the typical format but is still nice and effective, plus I love how this teacher interacts with her students. Enjoy! (And don’t forget, today (Tuesday) is the last day to enter this book giveway!)

Feed the Horses Activity & Lesson Plan

Riders: 3 (I can’t remember their diagnosis, but I remember 2 of them had some type of anxiety issues)

Set up:

  • poles down one quarterline
  • each pole has a paper attached with a pasture scene on it. I imagine it being a green construction paper background with the same horse graphic cut out and glued on in different numbers for each pasture – so one paper has 3 horses, another has 4, and so on (I would keep it under 5 to keep the game short). It should be laminated and have velcro squares on it for attaching hay bales, the same number as how many horses are in the pasture. But feel free to modify how you make your pastures.
  • 2 barrels at one end of the arena (since there are 3 riders, having only 2 barrels gives you opportunity to discuss waiting and taking turns!)
  • hay bales – one for each horse, with velcro on the back to attach to the velcro spots on the pastures. I imagine using either yellow construction paper rectangles, or printed graphics cut out. Disperse the hay bales between the two barrels.


1. Mount, give activity to do while waiting for others to mount

2. Warm Up Activity

  • This instructor often did a game at the very beginning of the lesson for the warm up, something that included thinking and stretching and interacting with their sidewalkers
  • Explain the activity at an example pole with example cards: each rider is assigned a pole with a “horse herd.” We have to feed our horses. What do horses eat? Hay! There are hay bales on the barrels. Count how many horses you have, then go get that many hay bales and bring them back to feed your horses (velcro the bales to the pasture). (Alternately, you can have the hay bales each have a different number on them, and the rider must find the one hay bale with the same number on it as the number of horses in their herd). For older riders you can discuss how much a horse needs to eat a day.
  • Sidewalkers assist as needed, with the instructor staying close and showing sidewalkers how to help, such as reminding them, “How many bales of hay do you need?” Riders may need to ask sidewalkers to hand them the bales of hay, if they can’t reach – don’t just offer, but let the rider problem solve: as instructor you can step in and say, “Hmm, you cannot reach the hay bales. What can you do to get them?” You may need to suggest they ask a sidewalker.
  • Kids that finish early can put the hay bales back.

3. Trotting & Steering

  • Discuss trot and steering skills
  • Have riders trot a wall and weave the poles down the other wall/quarterline, several times each direction, working on what each rider needs to work on.
  • Before each wall, she prepares the rider with a reminder specific to them, “Okay, let’s see a good posting trot with your heels down…” etc.

4. Cool Down

  • Gives each rider one ring at a time to put on the ring tree

5. Dismount

What I really like about this instructor was how she handled situations:

  • She stayed fun and smiley, but firm when she needed to be except kindly not angrily. She smiles and laughs and is slightly goofy, which puts everyone at ease.
  • When one rider did not like the color of their ring, she said, “Well, you git what you git and you don’t give a fit – right? Know why? Because the color doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter.” I like how she held him to the same standard as anyone else, but was kind and even funny about it. Then she followed it up with, when she was handing the last ring out and there was one rider left without a ring, “Who is the blue ring for? … Whoever’s left who doesn’t have a ring.” (Not whoever likes the blue ring best, or anyone in particular, but rather whoever needs it).
  • When one rider wanted her to move the pole closer so they could reach it, she smiled and said brightly, “No way, buddy, you move your horse! I will help you but I won’t move the pole.”
  • When L jerked on the reins she said, “Oh, I never taught you to woah like that. I NEVER taught you to do that. I taught you to pull back nicely.”

Hope that helps!  (And don’t forget, today (Tuesday) is the last day to enter this book giveway!)


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! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Feed the Horses Activity and Lesson Plan

  1. I used the “feed the horse” lesson and my riders had a fun time as well as a learning time as they not only had to count, but learn to hold the reins in one hand while they retrieved their hay bales and “fed the horses.” It was a great “walk on” and “whoa” instruction time with direct rein thrown in to get to the “Pastures” I had stapled to the wood beams of the arena. I brought in some horse treats for the little ones to put into the buckets in the stalls so that they could really feed the horses.
    Nice job for coming up with such a great activity!

    • Hi Lisa, it’s so good to hear that this activity was used and you liked it so much! I agree there are so many good components to such a simple game, and love that you added the treats at the end. Thank you for leaving a comment, I hope you continue to enjoy activities from the blog and have fun with your riders!

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