Christmas Garland Activity

Christmas Garland Activity

For once I’m posting way ahead of time about holiday activities for adaptive and therapeutic horseback riding, so you have time to plan and prepare! This is a new activity idea, inspired by the above dehydrated garland my friend made for me and these cinnamon ornaments my other friend made. I have not actually done this myself, but want to share the idea in case it inspires anyone else. If you try it, let me know how it goes and send pics!

This activity is great for working on fine motor skills, manipulation, and focus. Riding skills practice can be interspersed between the steps of making a garland.


You will need supplies for horse treat garlands:

  • Thick string
  • Your choices of the following garland items (probably pick 3 or 4 items):
  • Make holes in all the garland items large enough for the string to easily thread through

WARNING: All these real horse treats may cause an issue with the horses wanting to eat them and being distracted during the lesson, definitely practice before lessons to make sure the horses can handle it, and if your horses (and leaders) cannot handle it, or if your riders will also be distracted by wanting to eat the treats, then do not do this activity! You can find alternative items to use on the garland such as play plastic fruit, wood blocks, indestructible ornaments, and so on.

Arena setup

  • Buckets, barrels, whatever other props are needed depending on the activity you choose

Activity Ideas

  • Create stations around the arena for each bucket on the barrel. Label the bucket stations with numbers 1-6, and include a riding skill with each station such as  “2 point over the poles” or “trotting”. Roll the dice to determine which station to visit. String the item from the station on the garland, then practice the riding skill given before rolling the dice again.
  • Each rider has their own “home” barrel in the arena where the string is kept. The rest of the arena is set up with several barrels of the garland items. The riders must ride to a station, pick an item, ride back to their home and thread it on the string, one item at a time. You can have them ride all over the arena and practice arena awareness, or you can set it up so that they must ride on the rail in the same direction until they find a station to stop at (that no one else is at).
  • Hide the items all over the arena – on barrels, T poles, posts – and the riders must find them one at a time and either string them on their garland where they found it or bring it to the center or a specific spot to string it. Remind them to practice arena awareness and safe passing.
  • Incorporate it into an obstacle course, where one of the “obstacles” is stopping at a barrel, picking 1 item (have all the options there), taking it to the next barrel where the string is to threat the item on the garland. (This may work best with 1 or 2 students).
  • Ending: feed the garland to their horse or keep it in a special spot to feed one item after each lesson during the month of December.

In the end, the garland could look like this picture I found on Pinterest but have no website reference for:

Or something like this that I drew:

Have fun and be creative!

Bonus Idea

Make apple carrot candy canes – peel apples very carefully to get long peels, then wrap the peels around carrots like candy canes, using a ribbon to tie the peels in place on the ends.

Bonus Activity

Candy Cane Warm Ups – give everyone a candy cane, then ask them to…

  • hook your candy cane on your horse’s mane
  • hook your candy cane on your saddle
  • hook your candy cane on your volunteer
  • hook your candy cane on your boot
  • hook your candy cane on your stirrup
  • make your candy cane do backward circles (arm circles)
  • make your candy cane go way up high (reach up)
  • make your candy cane go way down low (touch toes)

Other Holiday Game Ideas

Want to start planning more holiday activities for December? Here’s a list of all the holiday posts on this blog to date:



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 “Christmas Garland Activity

  1. Thank you for more wonderful Christmas ideas. I bought some “weather proof” decorations and the students have to hang them on my bending poles (I put some big hooks from the hardware on the poles) I also got a heap of cheap “dog toys” in a Christmas theme.I use them as an “egg and spoon” type activity but instead of a spoon I use a small aquarium net…. and another new one is , I hang a Christmas basket/bag on the saddle and the students have to ride to a point and “collect” a decoration etc….. 🎄🐴💕

    • Those are great! Thank you for sharing! I love the idea of using dog toys, they seem like they’d be the right size and safe and fun! And the Christmas basket collecting decorations game! I hope your holidays go well!

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