What is Mounted Games?
Mounted Games is an equestrian sport where participants compete in teams (and sometimes as individuals) through obstacle type relay races at high speeds. The sport requires athleticism, hand/eye coordination, and a well-trained/athletic mount. This increasingly popular sport was first played in India by the British Army Soldiers. The returning military brought the games back to England where they gained popularity with the Pony Club Members. H.R.H. Prince Phillip brought the games to the Horse of the Year show in 1957 as a way for children to participate without expensive or well-bred mounts.
The sport of mounted games today was developed by Norman Patrick. His goal was to make the sport available to all ages – as it was previously age-restricted by Pony Club. His years of support and dedication ensured that the sport spread across Great Britain and beyond. At the time of his death in 2002, the sport was being enjoyed by countless riders on four continents across the World.
Types of Competition
The original format of competition was as teams, but as the sport evolved it is now also played as pairs and individuals.
- Team Competition A team consists of five riders and ponies. In each race only four out of the five take part, allowing the flexibility to select the four best for any particular race.
- Pairs Competition In pairs two – three riders form a team with only two competing in each race. Pairs competitions are sometimes seen in more relaxed competition settings, allowing friends to ride together for fun or training.
- Individual Competition Riders compete as an individual through a sometimes modified race.
Each format of competition has its own rules of play for about 20 different games, with some being common to all formats.
One of the best known and most exciting of the games is Speed Weavers , or Bending Race, because of its simplicity and speed. The rider weaves and bends, tracing a slalom path, between five poles along the length of the arena.
The Flag Flyers, with flags being put into and retrieved from quite small containers, at high speed, is another very popular game.
Even faster is Sword Lancers, where rings are collected from the tops of poles with a wooden sword.
The Agility Aces, or Stepping Stones race, wherein the rider dismounts, runs nimbly across a set of upturned buckets (stepping stones), and vaults back into the saddle to complete the race, is another game of exquisite skill and control.
A complete set of games rules that we use for competitions at Iron Horse Farm can be found HERE.
The sport as it is today is enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. With beginner programs through adult and even highly competitive play – there is a division for everyone who wants to participate.
As with all sports, Mounted Games are played at many levels of ability, and although top players and teams now prefer particular types of ponies, any child or youngster with any pony, whatever its breeding, can get started and have a lot of fun doing so.
A highly-priced pony is not necessary to learn the games. Most ponies will learn the tricks of the trade quite quickly, but in order for the ponies to succeed, the rider must be an experienced games rider or have a trainer to aid them in training a new mount.
At Iron Horse Farm we enjoy hosting relaxed Pairs competition in a fun and safe environment. Our competitions are open to everyone – whether you are just starting out or an experienced player. Experienced riders are on hand to guide beginner players in how to complete the races and also provide an exciting and competitive competition that is always a spectator favorite. We also offer beginner clinics to get new riders started and involved in the sport.
Kyley (Hellhake) DiLuigi began competing in mounted games through her local pony club in 1998. She has competed in over 10 National competitions with the USPC and has successfully trained all of her own mounts. Her background in Dressage has helped her develop highly responsive mounts that excel in the mounted games arena. Now an active member of MGAA, Kyley enjoys competing with her mom, Anne, in a more relaxed setting. She began running her pony club’s mounted games competitions at the age of 18 and continues to organize a popular series at Iron Horse Farm.
Laurel Hellhake quickly followed in her older sister’s footsteps and began playing mounted games in 1999. Borrowing mounts for many years, Laurel learned to become a versatile rider successfully competing in many USPC National competitions as well as several Prince Phillip Cup Competitions. Now a member of MGAA, Laurel enjoys working with her speedy mare, Jet, who leaves many ponies behind in her dust on the playing field.
Anne Hellhake was immersed into the mounted games world when her daughters became involved in Pony Club. Not one to sit on the sidelines often, Anne quickly became involved with competing herself. She now enjoys riding with her daughters in the Veteran division and has become a valuable score keeper at all of IHF’s competitions.
Check out our schedule of events for local competitions and clinics at Iron Horse Farm.
You can also visit these organizations to learn more about the sport:
Mounted Games Across America
The United States Pony Club
United States Mounted Games Association
International Mounted Games Association Find links to your countries specific Mounted Games site here
Some information re-posted from The Mounted Games Association.