Fun Games to Play on Horseback & on the Ground With Horses

By Lauren Corona

Mounted games, or gymkhana games, are commonly played by riders, either competitively or for fun. There are several games to play with your horse from the ground as well as games to play on horseback. Dismounted games help to build trust and unity between a horse and its owner.

Speed Weavers

Speed weavers, also known as the bending race, is a slalom game. Riders and their horses weave in between five poles or cones that have been set up equal distances apart from each other. Play this game alone, just for fun, or race against other people. If playing against others, set up five cones for each horse and rider. Everyone starts at the same time and the first person to weave up and back again wins.

Potato Race

The potato race is a game where the rider goes on her horse to the other end of the arena or game area, and picks up one of two potatoes that are sitting on a barrel or other raised object. She then rides back to the starting point and drops the potato into a bucket. The rider then repeats this process for the second potato. If racing against other riders, the first one to get both potatoes in the bucket is the winner.

Stepping Stones

The stepping stones race, or "agility aces," is a part-mounted and part-dismounted game. Six overturned buckets are placed in a line in the middle of the arena. Each rider must go as fast as he can on his horse until he reaches the buckets. He then dismounts, steps along the line of buckets while leading his horse, remounts, rides to the end of the arena and then back to the starting point.

Parelli Games

The Parelli games are seven dismounted games to play with your horse. They are both for fun and to help train your horse by building trust and understanding. The seven games are the friendly game, the porcupine game, the driving game, the yo-yo game, the circling game, the sideways game and the squeeze game. The instructions for each game are lengthy, and can be found online (Resource 2) or in a specialist Parelli training book.