Horse Games

Let hooves and imagination fly at a horsey fun show.

Let hooves and imagination fly at a horsey fun show.

Drowsy Water Ranch
Riders enjoying horse activities at Drowsy Water Ranch. Journal photo.

From 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 adopt 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.

AQHA’s Recreational Riding report will inspire you to saddle up and hit the trail in exciting new ways.

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) 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 frame. 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 mouths, the riders re-mount and race to the finish line. Those who are so inclined can then reward their horses with the juicy treat!

Learn more ways to enjoy your horse with AQHA’s Recreational Riding report.

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 ride around the arena as a group. The last team still connected by an intact piece of paper wins.

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.

3 thoughts on “Horse Games”

  1. Sounds great. Here’s another idea, a spin on barn dancing. Perform some Barn Dancing moves whilst mounted on horseback. Line of riders spaced out opposite another line of riders eg doce do (may not be correct spelling) one line rides forward into the spaces opposite, sideways for a few strides, then backs back to where they started. Swing your partners could be done with the two riders holding a ribbon and circling around, etc.

  2. We have a catalog race, too. Have a large catalog (such as a Cabela’s or JCPenny’s)sitting on a barrel at the end of the ring. Page number is announced for the rider to find, rider runs down, gets off, finds the page number and rip it out, remount and run back with page in hand. If it is the wrong page, more than one page, or if it is dropped on the run back, add a penalty.

  3. You can also do a “water” race or horsemanship class. Give each rider a cup filled with water. When class is over, whoever has the most water left is the winner. You can ride a pattern such as barrels or poles or do a horsemanship pattern or just rail work. Lots of fun on a hot day!!!

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