Horse Games


Try some of these yourself, or get a friend or two to join in!  Maybe you can start a “Friday Night Follies” at your barn.  Get silly, try something new, give you and your horse a mental break, increase your confidence.  Make up your own games!


by Deb of Fox Hollow Tack


1.  Pegging:  This was actually used for military training on horseback, under “skill at arms” meets.  It was combined with shooting at targets and sword use, kind of like biathalon.  The original equipment was a lance or tent pole, and a ring placed on the ground.   You can use a tapered stick of any kind, or try this instead:  use a coffee can as a target, and drop a dressage whip into it, as your “lance”. 

Ride up to the ring, and jab (“peg”) the stick in the ground in the center of the ring. 

Easy:  walk or trot up to ring and stop to hit the target.

Harder:  Keep walking as you pass the ring and peg the target.

Really difficult:  Trot past the ring and peg.

Variation:  use a tennis ball, and try to drop it in the coffee can.  Get some friends,  put some circles around the can, and award points for the closest drop, highest point for IN the can.

2nd variation:  try to pick up a piece of paper off the ground with a tapered stick or whip.

2.  Flag the Tree:  Any trail horse has to be patient and wait for you to put up flags for the trail ride. 

Pick out 5 or 6 trees, ride up and tie a survey ribbon to an overhead branch.  Go on to the next tree, till all are flagged. 

Teaches, hopefully, your horse to be patient, make a lot of stops, and wait while you fidget around.  Some horses won’t stand for this initially, it’s sometimes harder than it sounds.  May help the rider get used to moving in the saddle, without falling off.  Sometimes you have to stand slightly to reach the branch, or pull it down to you (without spooking the horse!) 

Make it a timed race with some friends.  Who ever can flag the trees in the shortest time wins.  Maybe include un-flagging the trees too! 

Substitute any kind of ribbon, or baling string.

3.  Under and over:  A good trail horse will have to walk under half-fallen limbs or trees sometimes, and step over them too.

Set up a couple jump standards on sturdy boxes, and place a lightweight (PVC would be ideal) rail in the top position.  Make it about  7-8 ft high.  Set up a cavaletti about 20 ft beyond.  Ride under the rail and over the cavaletti. 

It should be set up so the rider has to lean way over to get under the rail, then sit up and step over the cavaletti.  Should help to improve rider’s flexibility and confidence in the saddle, changing position.  Set up at least 2 of these in a row if possible.  Try it at a trot when you get comfortable!

4.  Simon Says:  Have someone be Simon, and call out instructions. 

            Sitting trot

            Half seat

            Touch your horse’s left hip with your left hand

            Stretch your right hand up

            Drop your reins

            Touch your right toe with your left hand

            Drop your stirrups 

Include a couple of cavaletti to go over while doing the Simon Says

5.  Egg and Spoon  Normally a race for kids at the horse show, but you can do this on your own.  Use a potato, (or hardboiled eggs) if you don’t want broken eggs!  Set up a “course” of circles, go around jump standards, walk / trot over cavaletti. 

6.  Pass the Banana  Need more people for this, try to get  2 teams of at least 2 each.  It’s a relay race, like pass the baton, but use a banana instead.  Don’t break it!  If it breaks you must pass the pieces too!

7.  Barrel racing  OK we’re not up to this level yet, at least I’m not.  How about barrel trotting?  Don’t have barrels?  Use boxes, or jump standards.  Doesn’t have to be a race, you can set up a pattern and ride it just to work your horse on flexibility and control.

8.  Broom ball  Same idea as polo, but softer.  Use a broom to push a ball the length of your ring, or around objects.

9.  Drill team  Get a friend, and try to ride in sync.  Walk, trot, circle, halt, leg yield.