What You Need:
Box or Treat Bin
This game can apply to any gift-giving time of the year; I am using it in lessons this week for Valentine’s Day. I set up the lesson to reward the horses immediately, but it can be adjusted to whatever works best in your program. If there is an off-horse part of your lesson, gathering art supplies on the horse and then making a card for a caregiver would be a great idea!
The objective of the lesson is to use the reins to stop and steer the horse. The life skill goal is compassion and emotional expression in giving a gift to someone or something else.
Set up the arena with horse treats at various spots. Leave a treat bucket or box in the middle of the arena. Make sure the horse leaders know where the treats are so the horse doesn’t grab them first! Treats like peppermints or a bag of horse cookies might be better than carrots or apples if the horse is prone to reaching for treats.
The rider steers the horse to each treat spot, picks up the treat, and drops it off in the treat bucket. Increase the difficulty by asking the rider to ride in a pattern (i.e. ride a figure eight to pick up the treats). Have riders cross the mid-line (reach across their body) to pick up the treat). Make the rider reach down to the bucket, instead of dropping in the treat, to increase core strength.
Save a couple of minutes after the dismount for the rider to treat their horse with some of the treats they gathered during the lesson. In a gift giving season, like Valentine’s Day, discuss how nice it is to give a gift. Show the rider how happy the horse is to get something from him or her.
This is a simple exercise, but I find seasonal games or themes capture the interest of my clients and volunteers and keep the lessons fun for me! Let me know if you try this in your next lesson!