This is part 2 of the Basics and Building Blocks™ Games lesson plan.

Once your students have have successfully accomplished pattern 4 (see part 1), you  can begin  to introduce team play.  Assessing your students’ personalities will help you  make a successful “competition” for everyone.

Purpose of Team Play:

To develop skills in a fun atmosphere

to develop teamwork

to introduce light competition

Be sure each student knows which pattern they are responsible for.  Each team member can do a different pattern as long as all teams do the same patterns.

Take a look at the “Set UP for Team Play” Diagram.  There is a green arrow on  either side of the markers.  It’s to the left of the left set of markers and it’s to the right of the right side of markers.  These markers show you where each team should do the non weaving part of their relay.   It’s the safest way to avoid student collisions.

Horse and ponies feel  the excitement of their riders and can get very excited during games. You will need to watch carefully for horses who seem to be getting overly excited

Even placid horses can become annoyed when they are crowded.  Be sure that students keep the horses separated as they wait for their turn in the relay..

Over use of the ponies.  Watch that the  horses and ponies do not play more times than is healthy for them.  Especially watch for over heating on hot days.

Be aware of:

Don’t be in a hurry to encourage competition  at this level until the children are proficient at all of the skills that are involved in this exercise.  If you think they are ready to “race” be sure all the members of your class are comfortable with this idea as fostering a competitive attitude is not necessary at the Basic 1 level and can be intimidating to certain personalities.

Also be aware that certain children are very competitive and in their desire to win can become unintentionally rough on their ponies


Divide students into two groups. If you don’t have equal teams, one rider can go twice.

Put aggressive children in last order so they have to put the pressure of winning on themselves instead of on their team mates.

Put timid children in first or middle order in order to diminish team pressure on them.

Rather than making a team captain at this stage, the instructor should order the go. This will minimize stress for the timid student.

It can be educational to have the more aggressive riders do one relay lap as a walking member, particularly after they have raced several times.  This will get them back under control and thinking about skill as opposed to speed.

Method: Patterns

ALL PATTERNS BEGIN WITH THE STRAIGHT RIDE AWAY FROM THE GROUP AND FINISH WITH WEAVING.  Basic 1 riders should be kept in the safest situations and should not be encouraged to “race “ towards the group.

Use any of the four patterns to make a  relay that suits all of the riders on a team.  You can use 1 pattern or a different pattern for each team member.  This way even the less secure rider can participate successfully.

Making combinations of patterns allows you to arrange heats to suit riders. For instance,  if you have 3 riders ; one of whom is timid you could have the timid rider go first using pattern one, the next rider uses pattern 2 and the third rider, the most aggressive, uses pattern three.

Be sure to switch relay lanes every 3 or four relays so all circumstances are equal.  You can also switch directions of play

Make sure both teams are required to do the same patterns

Do “run throughs” that are not competitive before teams “race” one another

The Last Word

Students usually love team relays and will quickly become proficient. They will develop skills and independence because their mids are focusing on the team and they learn to do things automatically.  Much riding can be taught through various games.

Mix it up- provide challenges.  The following is a list of “Challenges” to use for those who are advancing more quickly .  The ones with * can help  to “level” the playing field because the challenge can be given to just one rider on each team. You can either choose the “Challenge” or let them pick a challenge out of a hat. (This requires that you have them written on paper beforehand)


  1. Shorten the distance between the markers
  2. shorten the distance between the markers and add 1 or two more markers
  3. *have one member from each team do their lap in two point.
  4. *Have one member from each team do their lap with out stirrups at walk or trot
  5. *Trade Horses
  6. *Do relay bareback
  7. *try pattern 5

















Teach games and have fun! They are especially great in the fall weather.  Your riders of all ages and abilities will have a great time.

Until next time…

Here’s to great rides on beautiful fall days!

Barbara Fox
The Riding Instructor

copyright 2009-2012 Barbara Fox Basics and Building Blocks

Barbara Ellin Fox TheRidingInstructor
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