Horseback Riding

Fun and Games

September 27, 2010

Let hooves and imagination fly at a horsey fun show.

Have fun with friends while playing games on horseback. Photo credit Heidi Nyland.

By Holly Clanahan for America’s Horse

Everybody loves a party, and what’s a party without party games? Fun shows and playdays make for some of the best times you’ll ever have horseback. We all have favorite games we remember from childhood, and at the AQHA headquarters, we recently got together to compare notes and brainstorm. Here are some of the games we came up with. Maybe you’ll want to adapt some of them for your next horsey get-together.

Egg and Spoon Horsemanship

This is a spin on the traditional egg and spoon race, which has participants zooming from a starting point to a finish line, balancing an egg on a spoon. In horsemanship, riders are asked to perform a pattern. The one who completes the greatest portion of the pattern before dropping the egg wins. It’s a good test of horsemanship, because if you don’t have a steady seat and good balance, your egg will soon wobble off the spoon.

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Cowboy Jousting

This requires a little engineering, but it’s well worth it. We use tall L-shaped frames made of PVC pipe with a string hanging from the top. Rings of various sizes (starting at about 6 inches in diameter) are attached to the string. These frames line the perimeter of the arena, and a rider carrying a jousting pole circles the arena, spearing the rings, which then release from the frames. This is a timed event, but skill obviously plays a big role, as well.

Boot Scramble

Riders start the game horseback in their stocking feet. Boots are piled at the other end of the arena. The riders race to the pile, then helpers hold the riders’ horses while the riders find their boots, put them on, then re-mount and ride back to the starting point.

Ride-A-Buck

Riders mount up bareback with a dollar bill tucked underneath their thigh, and the last one with the money still in place wins. Younger children or less-experienced riders can play this game in a saddle.

Apple Bobbing

Riders race to a filled water trough (or bucket) with apples floating in it. They dismount and then, without using their hands, use just their mouths to pick up an apple. Still holding the apples in their mounts, the riders re-mount and race to the finish line. Those who are so inclined can then reward their horses with the juicy treat!

Roll It!

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Ribbon Race

A team event involving two riders, each holding the end of a piece of crepe paper or toilet paper. Organizers can have the teams perform a pattern one at a time (such as going around barrels) or simply riding around the arena as a group. The last team still connected by an intact piece of paper wins.

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Sack Race

Riders race to the end of the arena, where they dismount, step into feed sacks (we like AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena’s) and hop back to where they started from, leading their horses. Make sure you go in heats and have plenty of room in case horses are spooked by the hopping.

Carrot and Cracker Race

Riders hightail it to the end of the arena, where they are given a few crackers and a carrot. The rider must eat the crackers while the horse eats the carrot. The rider then has to whistle a tune (or sing, if you want to be lenient) before remounting and racing back to the start line.

Special Event

“Out Here with Animals”

Join Tractor Supply Co. on Saturday, October 2 for special deals. This event has it all — the savings are big, and we’re throwing in coupons for select brands of dog food, cat food and livestock feed — redeemable all weekend. There may even be additional store events going on, so call your local store for details. Go online to find out if any of the TSC stores in your area are hosting an “Out Here with Animals” even and to watch videos of TSC’s series “Chewing the Cud” with Bessie the Cow.