Shovel and bucket game

Most of our riding lessons end with a game that improve the rider’s skills. Some work on their riding ability, but others reach into their ability to learn as well as their social communication skills.

The game

Put and take games, like putting the shovel into the bucket, work on hand-eye coordination as well as color recognition. The students are handed a shovel. Their task is to recognize the color, find the bucket that matches the color of the shovel, and place the shovel into the bucket. They love it!

But what they don’t realize is that this game actually improves their ability to read and write. Hand-eye coordination is the eye following the hand in a particular task. In this case, putting the shovel into the bucket.

How it helps

The rider’s eyes follow the shovel until it reaches the bucket, then releases it. In reading and writing, the eyes follow the words on the page or the hand writing the words. The better the coordination the better the reader or writer. By practicing these movements with an object, the eyes and brain are being trained to follow an object in a particular pattern. Following the object in the hand is a spatially precise exercise. Once mastered, it can be easily adapted to both reading and writing because these following skills become automatic and the child does not have to think about it.

As more research is being conducted into the importance of hand-eye coordination in youngsters, we will continue to play games on horseback that will improve their ability to follow an object from their hand into a receptor.

Linda Watson-Call is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.
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Nearly every Therapeutic and beginner riding class at our facility ends with a game. Sometimes even the more experienced riders want to play games on horseback.

I find games are an excellent way to reinforce skills that would be “boring” if we practiced them as part of a riding lesson. And once the rider gets the concept, we can advance to the next level.

Here’s a sample of some games and the expected results:

Red light green light. Played on horseback the same way we play it on the ground. Reinforces asking the horse to walk on and stop.

Egg and spoon is a classic. The rider holds a long handles spoon with an egg or golf ball in the bowl part of the spoon. The object is to get from point A to point B without dropping the egg. Skill learned – soft, steady hands.

Chaos is a favorite in our barn for all riders. We play it with the holiday pictures on the arena wall or with objects on the barrels. The rider tries to be the first one to take the horse to the item called and stopping the horse at that item. Skill – focus!

Ring game. The rider moves a ring from one cone to another. We start by stopping the horse at the cone to retrieve or place the ring and advance to doing it without stopping the horse. This game improves motor skills and special relations as well as stopping and walking the horse.

Focus, following patterns, spatial relations are all essential to good riding. Why make a lesson boring when games can be the way to learn!

Linda Watson is the owner and head riding instructor at Pretty Pony Pastures. Visit the website for details on all the lessons and activities at this facility.

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One of the reasons the teacher at Patterson Elementary School in Holly likes to bring her students here for therapeutic riding is because we work together to incorporate her classroom lesson plans into the riding lesson.

Finding YellowThis week we were working on colors. Not to confuse shapes and colors, or to remember that the square is blue and the triangle is green, all the barrels had a picture of a color circle.

Since we are also working on learning how to stop a horse, it was just a matter of combining two tasks – recognizing a color and stopping the horse – to devise the Color Game!

Each rider was given a different color. When they found their assigned color they would stop their horse. Once they got good at finding their color and stopping their horse we added another dimension. Name something that is that color. It was interesting to see how many riders would look around the arena to match an item to that color and how many would “think” of something – usually food.

Everyone was a winner, reinforcing concepts they were learning in the classroom.


That’s “riding” – not “writing”

Daniel_Buttercup_the_reFor the longest time I’ve used my dressage cones to teach letters and to give the riders a marker to either stop at or make a circle.  As the riders progressed, I’d ask them to stop their horse at a letter, then tell me a word that started with that letter.  All part of the fun of therapeutic riding.

 

 

Jasmine_Lu-Rain_likeLast week, Mrs. Danneker, the teacher who brings her students for therapeutic riding once a week, asked if we could do words instead of letters.  Why not!  So sent me the sight words that the students were learning that week and I printed them out, put them in plastic holders and placed them on the four corner barrels.

 

Kyla_Slick_can_reThe riders thought it was great to circle a word PLUS it reinforced their vocabulary words for the week.  They were so proud when they found their word, too!


I wanted to make today’s lesson fun, so, instead of drilling the riders in their posture and hand positions, I decided to make today game day and devised a barn version of streets and alleys.  On the playground, this is a game of tag, but in the arena, it’s a fun way to teach the young riders how to steer quickly and be aware of where the other horses are in the arena.

I set up three rows of cones, the long way in the arena.  Two rows were near the rail, where we usually have cones, the third row, which was really barrels since I didn’t have enough cones, ran down the center.  Between the rows of cones, I placed poles.  The cones going the long way were the streets; the poles going the short way were the alleys.  The riders had to weave when they were on a street, but not when they were in the alley. 

When I called “streets” or “alleys” the riders had to turn as soon as they could.  There was no correct way to turn.  Left or right, whichever way they chose, just as long as they didn’t run into another horse!

Everyone…the riders, volunteers, and parents thought it was a great experience.  Most of the time the riders are single file, keeping proper spacing between themselves and the other horses.  Never passing each other, and never going in opposite directions toward each other.  Today they learned how to navigate around the barrel with one horse on each side.  They learned how to ride along side each other when they both turned into the same alley.  They learned how to be aware of the other riders and stop their horse if another horse was crossing in front of their path.

But, most important, they learned they could have a lot of fun riding their horses!