Your child isn't just interested in all things equestrian—she's pony obsessed. She grooms her toy horses daily, begs for pony rides at the fair, and dreams of the day she'll have her own. Take her on a imaginative journey as she runs her own stable through imaginative equestrian games and play ideas!
A Pony of Her Own
Envision the perfect pony by brainstorming names and words that fit her equine's personality. Does your daughter dream of a white mare with flowing mane? Marshmallow might be the right name! Or, does she talk of a chestnut gelding that runs like the wind? Help her think of names related to speed, like Thunderbolt. Have her use crayons or markers to create a portrait of her pony. If you want to get really goofy, ask your daughter to slip on mittens to transform her hands into wide horse hooves. How does her horse's portrait change when she draws using the mittens?
Training for Equine Events
If your child is more interested in rodeos than dressage, it's time to train for the next big show. Set up over-turned plastic cups in the backyard in a triangle pattern to practice barrel racing with her toy ponies in hand. A line of flowerpots or garden stakes work well for pole-weaving practice. And don't forget to set out a few bulky obstacles to practice jumping! Encourage your daughter to channel her inner pony while she makes the sounds and gestures a real equine would make, from neighing to stomping at the ground during the equestrian games.
Gorgeous Grooming Tips
Every horse must be groomed regularly, so have your child use her imagination to pretend one of her Horses & Hearts Riding Club ponies is a real pet. Carefully brush out tangles in the faux mane and tail. Then, personalize the hair by adding tiny ribbons, creating braids, or incorporating colorful hair ties. Set some playful ground rules that encourage color matching and organization skills, such as asking your child to create a rainbow sequence or make a pattern. Just be sure not to tug or brush too quickly, or your imaginary horse might get upset! Each time she starts to tug at the horse mane or tail, sound the alarm to remind her to slow down and focus, encouraging your child to approach animals (real or fake) with a mindful, gentle touch.
A Well-Deserved Snack
Round out the horsey day by preparing a snack that both your child and her make-believe horse can enjoy. Talk about what foods horses eat, such as hay, grain, and fresh produce, before prepping a snack together. Ideas include fresh apple slices, mini oat bran muffins, or baby carrots. Serve the snack in a shallow cake pan and challenge your child to eat like a horse—no fingers allowed!
When it's time for pony play, grab your cowboy hats and giddy up! It's time to help your child imagine her own riding stable and how she would prepare for a competition at the local horse show. She'll be submerged in her own horse-loving world with these equestrian games.
A TIP FROM THE EXPERTS
"Even if your child doesn't have a horse of her own, she can still benefit from the magic of equestrian play. Approaching the idea of owning a horse from different ways, such as these activities, incorporates more of the imagination and inspires creativity. These simple activities allow for your daughter to experience horse ownership and care without ever leaving your home!"
About the Expert:
Brenna Hicks is a licensed therapist and stay-at-home mom. She created The Kid Counselor blog to offer parenting and play therapy tips. She has been featured in The New York Times, and on CNN and iVillage. A native Floridian, she loves the beach, the sun, and water sports. Brenna lives with her husband, son, and beagle.