Get familiar with these horse games now because
I absolutely loved going to horse camp, and then I loved it even more when I could become an unpaid counselor (not even being sarcastic, being a counselor was cool enough, no pay was needed). If I learned anything over my many years of horse camp it was always have a horse game ready to go. Rainy day? Horse game. Too many kids, not enough horses? Horse game. Kid falls off and too scared to get back on? Horse game.
9 Horse Games for Kids
1. Barrel Race
A great game if you’re short on horses. You just need two well behaved understanding horses and at least one barrel. Split the kids into two teams and let the games begin! We used to do different things like first time around could only be in half seat or you had to walk there trot back. It usually didn’t get as intense as the picture suggests but the competition would get heated.
For this horse riding game each rider takes a dollar bill and places it on the inside of their thigh. Riders are then asked to ride around while doing different things – posting trot, canter, jump, ect. When their is only one rider left with the dollar still by their leg they win! Technically they win all the money but if you had to shell out $20 for this game you may not want to play by those rules. Ride-a-Buck is a fun way to teach leg position, balance and overall improves leg stability. For a more difficult version try it bareback.
3. Blind Mans Tack Up
Here’s a good game for those rainy days. If you have a nice wide aisle that works best. Take one your horses – again a very well behaved and patient one and put them on cross ties or have someone hold them. Place all the tack around (bridle, saddle pad, saddle, girth, etc). We used to have the children split up into teams of two so it wasn’t too overwhelming but you can try larger. One child will be the eyes and the other will be blind folded. When the timer starts the eyes will direct the blind folded child from where the tack is to putting it on the horse correctly, one the horse is completely tacked up the timer stops. Team with the quickest time wins. This horse camp game is good because it forces kids to use the proper name for equipment and work together. Make sure the horse looks comfortable throughout the process and that the children aren’t running or yelling cause it could get messy.
4. Around the World
Around the World isn’t the type of game that will take up the whole lesson but it will help with balance. The idea is to have the rider start sitting normally, then they swing one leg all the way over so they are sitting side saddle, then they swing the leg over again so they are sitting backwards, then side saddle the other side and back to normal. Have the rider do it in both directions. Kids use to love when we would have the handler (always helps to have an extra person holding the horse when doing this) walk the horse forward a few steps when they were sitting backwards. I’ve seen the game help numerous kids who were even scared to get on the horse, somehow when you turn it into a game they forget all fear.
5. Bucket Ball
All thats needed for this fun horse game is a bucket, and soft ball and a stand (jump stand works). Have the two riders line up at one end of the ring with the ball on the stand at the other end. Riders race to the ball, grab it, ride back and have to drop the ball in the bucket. First one to get the ball in the bucket wins. If at any point the rider drops the ball they have to dismount, pick it up and get back on. The more advanced students really enjoyed this game and would be galloping around the ring. A fun way to add in more riders is turn it into a relay. Have a few riders at different points where they have to transfer the ball to each other without dropping it.
6. Obstacle Course
Obstacle course is always a winner. It can be adjusted for all riding skills, ages, and props. It’s more fun when the kids get to help you set it up and you’ll be surprised with what crazy ideas they come up with. Set your course, get your timer and you’re set!
7. Egg and Spoon
Horse games are great for teaching balance and this one will especially test riders’ skills. Start out by giving the first rider the egg on the spoon and they would have to ride to the next participant and pass it over without dropping it. The team that gets to the end first with a fully intact egg wins. Usually if a team dropped an egg they would have to go back to finish and we would give them a new egg to keep the fun going. Throw in some trotting, steering, half seat, anything to make it more challenging.
8. Tack Take Apart
Another good rainy day option. You only need a bride or saddle per team, take apart all the pieces, undo all the latches, take off the bit, ect. Lay out the pieces and let the kids put it back together. The team that puts together their bridle or saddle first wins. This game really helps reinforce all parts of the tack that you go over a million times but you know they aren’t really listening.
9. Simon Says
An old school classic with an equine twist. Simon Says is perfect for horse game for larger groups and keeps the students focused on you. Depending on experience level you could do simple things like raise left hand, point to your horse’s withers or half seat. With more experienced riders commands such has drop your left stirrup, pick up a canter or change direction all help improve balance, focus and overall skill.
Next week I’ll post some helpful arts and crafts ideas that can save you on those rainy horse camp days.