Ahead of the Easter holidays plan some fun riding activities for kids – here we offer up some ideas.
There are plenty of ways to help kids have fun with their ponies at home and one really easy way to inject a little interest into a ridden session at home involves using poles. Create shapes for them to ride around, tunnels of poles for them to ride through or simply scatter poles around the arena for them to head to and ride over.
By simply counting down from 3 to 1 you can inject a little fun and anticipation to simple transitions. Tell the rider what transition they’re going to make then count them down at different points around the school.
Don’t underestimate the value of games - yes they’re fun for pony and rider but they also help to develop good team spirit (if played in groups) and help riders to develop their skills in new and interesting ways. Here are a few ideas from the pros at the Pony Club:
Traffic light game
This group game is nice and simple. All you need is a coach to call out different colours as the ride performs a series of different movements. Red means halt, amber is walk and green is trot.
Bean bag games
Challenge riders to ride with bean bags on their hats and watch their positions improve. Where bean bags keep falling off, help by correcting the rider’s position. They can walk, trot or, for the more experienced, canter. Lead rein riders can do this in halt and walk. Consider:
- Can they sit on bean bag in all three paces – lead reins in halt and walk?
- Can they keep bean bag between lower leg and pony – is it easier on one side or the other? What about over a jump?
- Can they keep a bean bag between their hands and still steer when riding circles?
If you have a group of young riders, this game can be lots of fun and doesn’t require much equipment. The aim of the game is to ride around until the music stops, then head for a cone or marker. There should be one less cone than there are riders and each time a rider makes it to a cone they get a point. At the end of the game, the rider with the most points wins.
Set riders up in pairs and send them off to find things beginning with a certain letter for example; things beginning with the letter B might include; bark, bottle, binder twine etc. The Pony Club recommends pairing one older rider with a younger rider and that very small riders stick to walk. Depending on the season you turn your scavenger hunt into a themed treasure hunt e.g. an Easter egg hunt, a Christmas gift hunt etc.
Apple Bobbing Race
This game can be played as individuals or as teams but you will need some helpers to hold ponies. To set it up, fill a line of buckets full of water and throw in some apples. Riders have to race to the buckets, dismount, hand their pony to the helper then bob for apples with their teeth. Once they’ve managed to get an apple out of the bucket they remount and race back to the start.
This one is by far our favourite Pony Club Game! Sammy the Snake teaches younger riders how to ride a three-loop serpentine. To set it up, place two poles at A so they can ride between them, another two poles on the centre line guiding them straight after their first loop, then another two poles on the centre guiding them straight after second loop and then finally two poles at C to finish of the exercise. Riders start at A or C (Sammy’s head!) and ride in between the poles until they finish at his tail.
For more advice and information from the Pony Club or to find Pony Club events in your area visit the Pony Club website.