8 Fun Games to Play on Horseback

Looking for a fun game to play on horseback? There are a bunch of great games that are so much fun to play while riding!  Games make great skill building activities to use during lessons, at camp, or even as horse show classes. Keep reading to learn about some of our favorite games to play on horseback!

Flag relay horseback

Mounted games! You might have heard of these equine activities before. They are a lot of fun and the skill/challenge level can be modified to fit any rider age/ability level. Sometimes we will end our weekly lessons with a game or two at the end. Other times we will hold an games horse show when every class consists of a different game.

Games are a great way to break up your time in the saddle.

Our Favorite Games to Play on Horseback

  1. Red Light, Green Light
  2. Pretend Horse Show
  3. Water Cup Game
  4. Mug Shuffle
  5. Australian Road Runners
  6. Egg in Spoon
  7. Dollar Bareback
  8. Musical Stalls

Keep reading to learn about each mounted game listed above!

Red Light, Green Light

Red light, green light is a fun and simple game for everyone. Have all of the riders line up at one end of the ring and a non-rider (trainer, camp counselor, barn helper, etc.) stands at the opposite end. When the non-rider turns away from the riders she says, “green light.”  Riders move towards her as quickly as they can until she says, “red light.” Then everyone must STOP. Game continues until one rider reaches the non-rider. This rider is the winner! 

Supplies: none

Pretend Horse Show

This game is a great one to use to practice what riders can expect during a real show!

Riders take to the rail at a walk. A non-rider assumes the role of the show judge and if you have another non-rider, she can be the announcer. Riders are instructed to perform various skills, based on riding level. Some examples could include: posting trot, sitting trot, canter, two-point, halt, backup, reverse direction.

To end the “class” the riders should be asked to “line up” in the center of the ring, typically with their backs facing the judge but you can do whatever works. (In a real show, riders usually wear numbers on their backs. Lining up with backs facing the judge allows the judge to see the numbers clearly for any last minute placing decisions.

If this game is a “judged” game, the announcer can call out which riders the judge has placed in 1st through 6th place.

Supplies: none

Water Cup Game

Each rider begins this game holding a cup (plastic!) filled with water. Each cup should start out holding the same amount of water. Riders are guided through a series of exercises (for example, walk, trot and canter). At the end of the game, the winner is the rider who still has the most water in her cup!

This game can also be played as an in-hand game where riders lead their ponies with one hand through a series of tasks. They hold their cup of water in the other hand. Winner is still whoever has the most water in her cup at the end.

Supplies: plastic cups (1 per rider), water

water cup game ponies

Mug Shuffle

Mug Shuffle is a fun race on horseback. You play this game using upright game poles. Set up 4 poles in a row, with about 15 feet of space between each pole.  You will need a set of poles for each team/rider. You also need 2 cups (plastic) per set of poles.

Riders start on one side of the ring. Place a  cup on each pole on ONE end of the ring. Place another cup on the 3rd pole in each line. The race begins and each rider grabs the cup off the first pole and rides to the second pole in her line, placing the cup on that pole. Repeat with the cup on pole 3 and carry it to pole 4. Then, turn around and repeat The race is won by the rider who successfully places her cups on the 2nd and 4th poles twice and gets to the finish line first.

Drop a cup? Dismount and pick it up and keep going!

Check out this Mug Shuffle video for a visual of how the game is played.

Supplies: Game poles, plastic cups (2 cups for each set of 4 poles)

Mug Shuffle Lily

Road Runners

This game is all about speed, but not TOO much speed! Having a speedy pony might not be helpful in the Road Runner Game. We play this game by setting up cones at each corner of the ring. Riders must trot and not cut corners (must trot between the cone and the fence at each corner. You must stay at a trot and CANNOT PASS another rider. If you cut a corner OR pass another rider, you are out.

The winner is the rider who stays at a trot, rides through each corner, and does not pass any other rider.

Supplies: 4 cones

Egg in Spoon

This is a fun (and messy!) game! Riders each begin the game holding a spoon in one hand. A non-rider needs to place an egg in each rider’s spoon. Similar to the water cup game above, riders are guided through a series of exercises like walking, trotting and cantering. The last rider left with her egg on the spoon is the winner.

Supplies: spoons (1 per rider), eggs (1 per rider)

Dollar Bareback

Dollar Bareback is not only a fun game to play, but the kids especially love the chance to win some cash! For dollar bareback, we typically ask each participant to bring a single $1 bill. (It never hurts to have a couple extras on hand in case someone forgets.)

This game is typically played by riders riding bareback, but for less experienced riders, you could certainly play a non-bareback version.

Each rider folds up her dollar bill and tucks it underneath her thigh (between her leg and the horse’s back).

Riders are guided through various exercises (walk, trot, canter, cross rail, etc). The last rider left still holding her dollar is the winner.  (And in the version we play, she gets to keep everyone else’s dollar!)

Supplies: dollar bill (1 per rider)

Dollar Bareback Horseback Game

Musical Stalls

This game takes a little bit of setup. Using jump poles, set up “stall” spaces in the ring. To begin, make a stall space for every rider. Similar to traditional “musical chairs” the game is played as the riders circle the “stalls” while music is playing. When the music stops, riders must scramble to park their ponies in a stall space.

Before each new round starts, you remove poles to eliminate another “stall.” In the final round, you should have just one stall space left and 2 riders playing. The winner is the rider who parks her pony inside that final stall when the music stops.

Supplies: poles, a phone or other device to play music

What are YOUR favorite mounted games? Drop us a comment and let us know! 


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