Distance Games

What You Need:
Small cones
Poles
Large cones or barrels

With the state of the world, I wanted to come up with a couple ideas to incorporate “social distancing” into our riding lessons. I am offering a few lighthearted ideas here, but feel free to take these on and make them your own. Adjust to each rider’s skill level as needed.

  1. Six Feet Apart: Here is a good way to socially distance volunteers if riders are balanced enough to not need hands-on contact. Ask sidewalkers to stand around the arena and have riders ride toward the volunteer and stop six feet away. At that distance, have riders complete a task, like throwing/catching a ball or do a scavenger hunt -style ride and volunteers give out clues to the next location. It will be helpful to have a marker for six feet – a pole or cone should be enough.
  2. Lava/Alligator Water: Another fun game to talk about distance. Set up barrels and tell riders they cannot ride off the set path because there is lava! Provide a clear path, six feet wide, that the rider needs to stay on to get to the barrel safely. Lining a path with poles or cones provide a good visual marker. Make the path as straight or curvy as your riders can handle.
  3. Pole work: One of my favorite activities to add in lessons are poles and cavaletti. I have done entire sessions (multiple weeks of lessons) on pole work. Set up poles that range from 3-12 feet apart (base this on your horse’s stride) and discuss the spacing of poles in relation to the spacing of people. Ask clients to think about “horse lengths” when out in public.
  4. Dress Up: Have riders pick up different objects around the arena to “dress” their horse. Clothespins with ribbons, hats with long straps, boas, or whatever else you have on hand. Make it fun and have objects for the rider too, including face masks, bandanas, or neck scarfs.

These are all small ideas to make the “new normal” feel a little more accessible. If you want therapeutic riding and your programs to be an escape from these norms then continue with your regular lessons! If you want to help clients adjust to the current times, these are some fun ideas to make it seem less scary. As always, these are just my thoughts and opinions so please use your best judgment in your own situation.

How have lessons changed for you with COVID-19? Let me know in the comments below!

Patterns: Circles

A quick note before I dive in to today’s blog. I try to write and schedule my blog posts ahead of time as much as possible. I have a baby, a busy job, and a busy life so I write and schedule whenever I can. I wrote the next few weeks of lesson plans before the COVID-19 pandemic happened so you will not see any references to it in these posts. For my thoughts on the pandemic and how the therapeutic riding industry is stepping up, see my post here.

Back to our regular programming… The next few weeks will focus on patterns. We use a lot of pattern work at our center because it is easily adaptable to any client and it is the basis of all horseback riding. I rode dressage for years so I love pattern work! One of my favorite patterns is the basic circle.

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Sounds

Picture from pixabay.com

“Sounds” is a pretty generic topic for a blog post. How does this apply to therapeutic riding lessons? Why is it important?

Using sounds in lessons is a way to reach lesson objectives and to change up a stale lesson plan. I’ll give you a few examples of how to do both of these is today’s post.

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Find the Lucky Clover

What You Need:
Buckets
Barrels (or something to place bucket on)
Toys/Rings
One special toy

I’ve talked on the blog before about playing games related to the season or holiday because it keeps me from getting bored. I’ve been teaching for fourteen years and need to find ways to stay fresh! This is a great game I like to play around St. Patrick’s Day, but it can be played any time.

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Give a Gift

What You Need:
Box or Treat Bin
Treats

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!

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