How much more fun would games be if you were on horseback? I’m not sure that you would be able to play a good ole game of cards or checkers, but the equestrian world of sports is full of exhilarating horse riding games.
Horses have become synonymous with nobility and grandeur in many cultures worldwide. And you may think of horse polo if I were to ask how many games you knew a rider could play on horseback.
If you are looking for a way to spice up your equestrian summer camp, then I encourage you to think more along the lines of school-age games typically played at recess.
Here is a list of 10 Fun Mounted Horse Games that you and your young horse rider can enjoy.
Before engaging in the field of equestrian games or sport, you need to be well aware of the safety precautions for all riders, handlers, and horses involved.
Just like trying to teach a young child not to force a game on someone else just because they want to play that game, it is equally important to make sure that everyone, including the horses, is having fun.
Also, if you are in charge of an equestrian summer camp or happen to be the parent in charge of a fun day on the ranch, you should only suggest mounted games and activities suitable for the riders’ experience levels.
Think Back to Your Playground Days
So without further ado, here is a list of schoolyard games you can introduce to the ranch to ensure a fun and active day for all. I will include the names of each game and a simple set of playing rules.
#1. Follow the Leader
Just like the game you know so well, one rider and horse will perform a specific walk or movement. Other riders will be encouraged to copy the same instruction to advance to the next level.
If a rider cannot complete the exercise, they are out, and the last rider still standing will be deemed the winner. Be sure to express that this game is more a learning opportunity than bragging rights.
Less experienced riders can try new tricks that encourage further training and reward techniques with their horses.
#2. Bucket Fill
More typical of a relay-style race, you will get to practice mounting, dismounting, along with skill and coordination with this game.
First of all, fill five buckets with water. Then, you can make changes as necessary to suit the rider’s skill level. Next, you should have each contestant line up their five buckets along one end of the arena or enclosed area.
In addition, you will want a 5-gallon bucket that remains empty at the start, on the opposite end of the designated play area. Now the field of play is ready.
Each rider will start at the ground. Then, the rider must pick up a bucket, mount their horse, ride to the other end as fast as possible, and dismount and empty the water into the larger container. Then, the rider will mount their horse again and ride back to grab another bucket.
Each contestant should follow this routine until they deliver all their water across the field. The game’s object is to see which rider could perform the exercise most smoothly, measured by how much water made it into the large container.
#3. Red Light, Green Light
This game is a childhood favorite and popular addition to your repertoire at the ranch. The instructions are relatively simple. Each mounted rider will listen to one person shout Red Light or Green Light.
On Green, riders should take off, and on Red, riders need to bring their horses to a halt as fast and smooth as possible.
The game’s object is to see who makes it to the other end of the arena first without being called out for excess movement at the halt or failure to stop on command.
#4. Obstacle Course
As an excellent test for reflex and agility, you can set obstacle courses of varying difficulty levels to encourage riders to work closely with their horses to navigate the obstacles successfully.
Some popular obstacle items you probably already have on the ranch
include ground poles, gates, and jumps. You can make the course more exciting with a teeter-totter and steps.
You could challenge each rider to perform different gaits or exercises between each obstacle if you want.
#5. Snail Race
The Snail Race sounds like a lot of fun, and I want to try it with my youngsters tonight. Riders and horses need to have delicate control over their gait to walk as slowly as possible. The winner is the last rider to cross the finish line.
#6. Capture the Flag
Capturing the flag will perhaps be better suited for more experienced riders; however, the rules are simple. To start, place a flag at opposite ends of the field within an arena or dedicated playing area.
Since the contestants are on horseback, the flag should be attached to a pole stuck in the ground. Then divide the riders into two teams. Be careful not to make each group too big as there will be plenty of movement on the field.
Each team must take the opposing team’s flag and bring it back to their side without getting tagged.
#7. Barrel Racing
Barrel racing is an excellent way of testing speed and agility against the clock, often used in professional equestrian events.
To set up, place cones in a specific pattern for each horse and rider to complete. Then, without knocking over barrels or stepping out of bounds, the fastest team will win.
#8. Pass the Egg
Set this race up as a relay by dividing the riders into two teams. One rider from each group will carry an egg atop a spoon across a specific distance and hand it off to the next rider.
Each team will copy the same exercise until each member has carried the egg on the spoon across the field. The team that first completes the race wins.
You can use the number of times the egg dropped as a tiebreaker if both teams come across the finish line simultaneously.
#9. Bucket Drop
Another precision and agility game that any rider will likely enjoy is Bucket Drop. With a bucket placed somewhere in the field of play, a rider will charge towards the bucket to start the game.
The rider will slow down as they approach the bucket and successfully drop an item down, careful that it does not bounce out.
Finally, the rider must race back to the starting line as quickly as possible for the win.
#10. “Ride a Buck”
For those true-spirited Westerners, this game may turn out to be an absolute favorite. A rider should place a dollar bill or piece of paper between the rider’s leg and saddle for this game.
The rider’s challenge is to complete several exercises or patterns without losing the note of money.
More Than A Game
As I suggested earlier, introducing any of these horseback games is meant to empower and encourage each rider at various experience levels. The skill and agility required to complete these fun games on horseback enhance both the rider and their horse’s self-confidence.
Take the time to explain to each contestant that a little bit of friendly competition is fine but be sure to stop immediately if the match gets out of hand.
Safety needs to be the most crucial element to any of these games that you choose to play. If the competition gets out of hand, the security of a rider or horse could be in jeopardy.
What I love most about mounted horse games is the desensitization from everyday riding and the combination of skills that need to exist to meet each challenge.
Just the act of playing a game while mounted to your horse is a skill set on its own. It requires more control, balance, and agility than what one may experience during a typical ride around the ranch.
If you look at horse riding games from the right angle, they are a fun way of teaching multiple skills to riders. Riders will need to remain focused through each exercise, and they will undoubtedly demonstrate the relationship they have been working on tirelessly with their horses.
Enjoy the Game
Remember that playing games on horseback are a win-win for you and your horse. Not only is it an excellent way to freshen up training routines, but it is also a fantastic way to deepen the connection with your horse.
I hope you enjoy experimenting with one or more of the 10 Fun Mounted Horse Games in this article. Whether you are having a fun day at the ranch or need to think of some great new ways to excite your young riders, utilizing a game is always an excellent way of touching the child spirit that we each have.
Please remember to share your experiences with any of the listed games above in the comment section below.