Beep Beep – Get out of my Way…
This is one of my all-time favourite games to play with kids and ponies. It teaches so many elements and is great fun. Even the quietest of young rider ends up laughing and joining in. It is a great warm up game, checking you have control over riders and ponies, everyone is moving and thinking, and as an ice breaker for a new group or new instructor.
The idea of this, is to imagine that you are driving your car or motor bike in traffic. When there is traffic blocking your route, you beep beep your horn, and hopefully the traffic will move out of the way. One of our riders is going to be the road block, so they are going to get beeped….
You need at least three riders, and the game can be adjusted to any level. Beginners can play on the lead rein, improvers can play in walk and trot while more advanced kids can play in trot and canter.
Have your three riders in a ride, nose to tail, on the outside track at walk. Rider 1, in the front, Rider 2 in the middle and Rider 3 at the back. On a command, Rider 3 halts on the track. Rider 2 keeps on walking, while Rider 1 picks up trot. Rider 1 keeps trotting around the outside of the arena, when they see that Rider 3 is blocking the way. Now, they can only yell Beep Beep, that is their only tool. The question is their timing. When they yell Beep Beep, the halted rider needs to ask their pony to start to trot, and keep trotting at a pony distance in front of Rider 1 until they both reach the back of Rider 2. As if traffic on a road. If Rider 1 yells Beep Beep too early, then Rider 3 will start to trot too early, and she will never catch up – the idea is following distance in traffic. If they yell Beep Beep too late, they will crash into the back of Rider 3 before that rider can get their pony from halt to trot. Each rider needs to have an idea of how long each pony takes to get going. So, Rider 1 is approaching Rider 3, and decides when they are about 50m away, to yell Beep Beep. Rider 3 picks up trot, and now both riders are trotting around the outside edge of the arena, approaching Rider 2 who has been patiently walking around the outside. When they get to Rider 2, both of our trotting riders come back to walk. So now, all three riders are in walk, on the outside track, in a file, with the order, Rider 2 in front, Rider 3 in the middle and Rider 1 now rear file at the back.
The next round is exactly the same – now, Rider 1 (who is currently the back marker of the ride) has to halt on the track, Rider 3 (who is now in the middle) keeps on walking, and patient Rider 2, gets to pick up trot, go around the outside edge and yell Beep Beep when they approach the halted rider. Keep repeating this until all the riders have had a turn at staying in halt, staying in walk and going up to trot and yelling Beep.
The beauty of this game, is that riders are practicing what they need to learn, without having to be focused on it. The rider in halt has, I think, the hardest job. They have to persuade their pony to stay in halt as the pony’s friend keeps walking. The pony needs to remain in halt, quietly waiting. They have to wait for the trotting rider to give the instruction, and they have to have their pony attentive enough that as Beep Beep is yelled, they can give a leg aid and have the pony walk and trot in as few as strides as possible. The walking rider has to keep their pony in a walk, although that pony will often either want (expect?) to go with his trotting friend, or stay in halt with his stopping friend. They have to keep straight and not cut any corners, otherwise the two trotting riders won’t catch up. And the trotting rider has to get their pony to trot, not cut the corners, keep a good pace, watch out for the halted pony road block and get their timing right to yell Beep Beep. If they yell too early, they need to persuade their pony to trot a little faster to catch up, and if they yell it too late, or the halted pony refuses to move, they need to have good avoidance reactions so they don’t crash or haul on their reins, but turn away smoothly – playing bumper cars IS NOT part of the game.
Experienced riders can do the trot part in canter, but instructors beware – it can get hectic. If you are not sure about the riders cantering ability or the safeness of the ponies, stick to trot, its challenging enough already.