I felt I had to write a blog about activities/games that can be enjoyed on horseback and also for equine therapy. These games can be adapted depending on the ability and disabilities of the riders. I remember playing these when I was young, Matilda has also enjoyed playing some of these too.
Around the World
This is an old favourite of mine, sitting in the saddle swinging one leg over to face the side, then swing the other leg over to face the rear of the horse, it was always so weird and a little scary facing this way, then swinging your leg over to face the other side, then finally swinging your leg back over to face the front. This is a great way for children to learn to balance in different positions, make sure you support your child at all times
Animals on the loose
Set up some obstacles in the school to be ridden around/through, place some stuffed animals around the school, make up some cards for each animal, get the child to pick a card, once they have chosen, ask them the name of the animal, sound it makes and how to spell the animals name, then ask the rider to find the animal around the school riding through the obstacles and return it back to the start.
Set up a netball hoop, use soft balls of various sizes, set up some lines on the ground, slightly further away from the hoop at intervals so it becomes harder for the riders to hit the net
For the more able bodied riders you could get the riders to trot past and try get the ball in the net
Set up some cones around the school as an obstacle course, mark strategically placed cones, making these the ones they must get the hoop over. Ask the riders to ride through the obstacle course and place the hoop over the chosen cone
Follow the Leader
Set up an obstacle course, ask the riders to follow a course or the instructor. You can make it harder by doing it in trot. If you have a group of riders you can also ask one rider to be the leader and the others to follow, get them to take turns in being the leader
Give each rider a tennis racket, place a ball on the racket, so they can balance the balance the ball as they ride around an obstacle course, halting at various stages, ensuring they don’t drop the ball. Add more balls to the racket to make it more interesting and get them to do this in trot if the riders are able bodied
This is great fun in the summertime, it’s a relay race and most enjoyable. Line up all the riders at one end of the school (Start) with a cup, at the other end of the school have a bucket of water set up off the ground so it can be reached reasonably easily by the riders. The aim of the game is to race up to the other end of the school, scoop up some water out of the bucket and ride back and empty your water into the empty bucket situated at the start, the next rider then does the same until all the riders are back, first to finish will win. Dependant on the ability of the riders, this can be purely a race or until all the water is transferred from one end to the other What’s the time Mr Wolf?
One rider at one end of the school with their backs turned away from the others, is Mr Wolf, the other riders are at the other end facing Mr Wolf, each rider asks “what’s the time Mr Wolf” Mr Wolf answers with a time E.G 3 O’clock, the riders then have to take 3 steps towards Mr Wolf, this continues until such time Mr Wolf is asked what the time is and if he answers “Dinnertime” then the riders all have to get back to the start before Mr Wolf catches them
Pass the doughnut
Get a paddling ring “doughnut” about 12 inches or larger and have the riders hand it to one another as they ride past each other in opposite directions trying not to drop it, if it is dropped then that rider is out. Continue until only one rider is left. Depending on the ability of the riders but can be done in trot, this game is lots of fun
All these games are a great way to learn about riding, the horses and to improve the children’s abilities. The benefits for children with disabilities can include improved balance and muscle strength, stress reduction and improved self-confidence.