Horse Games

Speed, Accuracy, and Timing in the Equine Athlete



Horse games are truly where you separate the weak from the strong. Gaming classes require speed, timing, and some luck to win.

They are also the most entertaining and action-packed classes to watch at a horse show. At a typical weekend horse show you will likely not see speed classes mixed with the pleasure classes.

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There are separate speed shows for the game horse that can be held on weekends. If you are at a breed show or an upper level world/national show, you will likely have speed classes offered. There are also some hefty prizes to be awarded to these speedy horses.





Gaming Class

There are a variety of different speed classes you can consider. Each one has a different skill set required for horse and rider. It is also common to see a game horse competing in more than one speed event.

Barrel Racing
In this event you are competing for the fastest time around a series of 3 barrels set in a cloverleaf pattern. You can choose to complete the pattern by beginning with one left or one right turn around the first barrel followed by turning twice in the opposite direction from the first barrel. So if you started with a right turn around the first barrel you follow with 2 left turns around the next two barrels.

You can compete in barrel racing in rodeos, weekend jackpots, or local family clubs. At the higher levels you will be competing for money prizes. Top performing barrel horses can cost as much as $50,000 or more.

In barrel racing, the fastest time wins. So hundredths of a second means the difference between winning and losing. Precise control over your horse is required to win. Racers running past a barrel and off pattern will result in a "no time" score which means disqualification. Knocking over a barrel results in a time penalty (5 seconds) which will usually push horse and rider out of a winning time.

A flying lead change will help when making the transition from the first to the second and third barrels.

Pole Bending
Another timed event at a horse games show where horse and rider weave through a series of six poles arranged in a line. You can compete in pole bending at high school rodeos (if you are young enough), stock horse breed circuit shows, and many gymkhana shows.

When showing your game horse in pole bending you will begin by racing past all the poles and turning at the last pole. You will then weave through the poles in a serpentine pattern changing leads as you go. When you get back down to the end you started, you will continue to weave your way back through the poles. Then you will race back past the poles to the entrance for your finish.

Any poles knocked over will result in a 5 second penalty added to your time.

Keyhole
This is a speed event that can get a little tricky for horse and rider. A game horse competing in a keyhole race will have to be very precise to avoid being penalized or eliminated from the class.

White powder, usually flour or powdered chalk is poured on the ground in the shape of a keyhole. The class starts when horse and rider race past the timer and into the keyhole pattern on the ground. The trick in this horse games class is to stay in the lines. When the horse reaches the largest part of the keyhole shape, it performs a turn to either direction without stepping over the chalk.

Next the horse exits the keyhole back to the timer and the class is finished. Stepping outside the lines usually warrants the adding of 5 seconds to the overall time, or disqualifying the team from the class.





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The Gaming Horse

When selecting a game horse most important are speed, strength, and intelligence. Speed is necessary to get the best time, but you also want strength in your game horse to help with maneuvering around barrels and through poles. An intelligent horse will be one that responds to your cues quickly and effectively. Having a horse that pays attention to you and what you are doing is a great feature when competing in horse games, when every second counts.








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