I am partnering with a local day camp to offer an equestrian component. Most of the children participating will have no equestrian experience. I am trying to think of educational activities and games that will help them learn about horses and saftey around horses. I will have the campers for 2 hours per day for a week. There will be 9 separate week-long camps. Some weeks I will have 1st & 2nd graders, some weeks 3rd-5th graders, and some weeks 6th-9th graders. Most of the riding will be leadline, but the older children might be introduced to the use of the reins by the end of the week. If you have ideas for games that would be appropriate for any of these age groups, please post them.
Day 1: Horse Behavior/Safety around Horses
Day 2: Parts of the Horse/Gaits of the Horse
Day 3: Horse Tack--Types of Tack and Parts of the Saddle and Bridle
Day 4: Horse Breeds, Colors, and General Terminology
Day 5: Equestrian Disciplines
I haven't taught summer camp in 15 years, but when I did the kids' favorite game was musical poles.
It's like musical chairs, but with poles on the ground. It can be done at any speed - including a walk if you have beginners.
You only need ground poles (one less than the amount of horses you have), and a radio. Place the poles randomly around the ring.
All the kids walk around while the radio plays. When it stops they have to find a pole, and their horse must stand over the pole with front legs on one side and back legs on the other. The one who ends up without a pole is out.
Keep going until you have 2 horses and one pole - then crown your winner.
The kids would have played this all day if I let them! It's a great steering exercise too.
Red Light/Green Light
Follow the Leader
Egg and Spoon
Walking Barrel Race
The one where you ride to one end with a rock/flag/etc and put it in a bowl, then ride back...next rider goes down and picks it up and brings it back.
For parts of the horse I always used a quiet citizen and wrote all the parts down on masking tape.... kids can match the masking tape word to the part of the horse. That one was always a hit! You can do it with the saddle and bridle too!
We also used to break them up into teams to disassemble and reassemble a bridle. It's a great rainy day activity.
For unmounted games, you can blindfold the kids and have them identify various things by touch:  grooming tool, including name and use;  with a safe horse, locate specific parts of the horse;  parts of the saddle and bridle.
For kids tall enough to lead whatever pony or horse is available, an obstacle race type contest. Lead over these three poles, lead into a box of poles, turn all the way around, lead out, go over a bridge, lead into a "U" of poles, back out, whatever you have available - a shallow ditch, a bit of a steeper hill, etc. Serpentine through a group of cones. This is good practice to get them comfortable with leading.
Practice being lunged or led while holding a glass of water which you do not spill?
The type of games you can attempt are very dependent on the group of kids, ages, and the type of horses you have. They can practice turning all the way around on the horse, or sliding back behind the saddle and then scooting off the horse's croup IF you are sure there are no kickers.
We are fortunate to have a barn full of beginner-safe mostly bomb proof horses that generally do not kick or do anything crazy. Usually the biggest problem beginners have with our horses is getting them to move
I am already planning on the tape-the-parts-on-the-horse game using our oldest, calmest horses. Simon Says, Follow the Leader, and Bridle Assembly are also on the list.
I'm probably not going to do musical poles since our horses like to hang up in the middle of the arena and beginning riders have difficulty getting them back to the rail. The entire camp will be during daylight hours so Flashlight Tag probably won't be an option.
Redlight, Greenlight is something I can do later in the week if the campers are comfortable enough on the horses to not have to be led everywhere.
I like the idea of the glass of water. We have plenty of paper cups so I could use those. I might see if I can get some golf balls and use those for Egg & Spoon rather than real eggs...
The in-hand obstacle course sounds like a good idea for the older campers. The last day of each week will include a horseless horse show including a barrel race on foot and a jumping course on foot. I might vary it up with some in-hand classes as well.
We do a lot of these games but I came up with one a couple of years ago....the Emergency Dismount game. For each team, we use a hula hoop (or a braided circle of hay string works too). It is done in relay-race type setup....each rider on each team has to ride to the end and do an emergency dismount (landing on their feet) inside the circle. One point for one foot in, two points for two feet in. Then they have to remount and race back.
You can do it at a walk for beginners or a trot for more advanced (my camp Jr counselors all like to try it at a canter).
We practice the dismount earlier in the day.....both feet out of stirrups, hands on neck and grab a little mane, swing over and land on your feet.
Most will land on their feet and then plop on their butts or sides. Need to have soft footing for safety.
We also do the catalog relay, and the scavenger hunt relay.
Scavenger hunt relay is to have some clean muck buckets and a bunch of items. Put items in each bucket....such as curry comb, hoof pick, stirrup, polo wrap, etc. and also throw in a bunch of stuff you will not call out so that the riders have to dig around through stuff in the bucket to find the items you call out. When they find it, they have to ride back and drop it in a bucket along the way back to the team.
Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Bernard M. Baruch
We played red light, green light this summer, and lots of games of four corners. The kids' favorite thing was not at all educational though...we filled one of those little kiddy pools with water and apples, and had them bob for apples against a horse!
"A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio