I enjoy every lesson that I am privileged to offer a rider. That being said, there are times when the students need a break from working on the lunge line or performing small circles. That’s when it’s time to shake things up a bit and get creative!
Creative Riding Lessons
Scavenger hunts on horseback are a great exercise for riders to escape the repetition of ring work during their riding lessons yet still learn valuable riding skills. We use a small paddock for our beginner riders to experience the fun of the hunt! Depending on the level of riding experience, the scavenger hunt can be ridden at a walk, trot or canter.
Before the riders arrive, we place objects from the barn in strategic locations in the paddock within easy reach of the rider. They are then given an index card with the name of the items they need to find. Each rider has to search for different items. Once they find their object, they need to drop it into their bucket (also predetermined before the hunt). You can time the hunt if you like or you can set it up so that they’ll finish finding all the items on their list within the given lesson time. The winner is the one with the most items from their index card in their bucket. Kids of ALL ages love this game and they learn so much without evening realizing it.
What does the scavenger hunt teach our students?
- BALANCE: They frequently need to bend over the horse and reach for items. Sometimes they’re reaching up high, far out to the side or down low. They need to be sure to stay balanced in the saddle at all times!
- CONTROL: We place the items all over the paddock. They need to be able to make their horses back up, stand still, stop and side step.
- CONFIDENCE: It’s not unusual for a horse to offer a slight spook when their rider is leaning over them to pick up a large white saddle pad. What’s interesting, I’ve noticed, is that the rider is so focused on getting the saddle pad that they barely notice the horse spooking and ride it out beautifully!
- FLEXIBILITY: The rider needs to be able to reach to the side, to the back, across their body and any other way in order to get their object. The entire time they’re flexing in all different directions and don’t even think about it.
We love this exercise! It teaches a lot more than what we’ve listed above. Contact us today to learn more! Please feel free to share what you think are some of the other benefits of this game for the rider in the comments below! ~Julie Chaffee