The egg and Spoon Game is a classic! Did you realize that it is so much more than a game and can be a great way to reinforce multiple riding skills for all levels of students? Let’s take a closer look at some of the riding skills you can reinforce with this fun game.
For those of you not familiar with the egg and spoon game while on horseback here are the basic instructions:
For each rider, you will need a spoon and something to hold in a spoon (hard-boild egg, rock, ceramic dummy eggs, etc) or you can buy an Egg and Spoon game set. Give the rider the spoon and they have to keep the item in the spoon during the activity.
A fun variation of the egg and spoon game is to use pincers or tongs instead of a spoon. Depending on your rider, this could be more challenging as they have to focus on keeping their hand closed tight enough to hold the item in the tongs/punchers while also neck reining with their other hand.
Whatever way you decide to set up the Egg and Spoon game, be sure to school your horses before your students play the game in class. Dropping items into a bucket, things randomly falling off the side of a horse, etc. can be startling to horses if they are not schooled beforehand. You should also make sure your horse can neck rein before playing this game. Horses do not automatically know how to neck rein and it is a skill that needs to be taught to your horse.
What riding skills can you reinforce?
Neck Reining– This game is a fun way to practice neck reining for all levels of riders. I personally like teaching my riders more of a split rein style hold (even when not using split reins) because it is often easier for the young riders or less experienced riders to pick up the idea that they need to point their finger (with the wrist following) the way they need to go. Also teaching riders how to neck rein with both the left and right hands is beneficial because it makes them learn how to independently use each hand and to master the fine and gross motor skills of neck reining with each hand.
Using each hand independently– Have you ever encountered a rider that has trouble with one hand doing the same thing as the other? I have! Egg and Spoon game is a great way to work on learning how to have each hand function independently and for the rider to focus on two separate hand tasks at once. Often times you will find that the first few tries the rider will try to steer with not only the hand holding the reins but also the hand holding the spoon or tongs and they will drop the ‘egg’.
Releasing the reins after a whoa/Awareness of reins at whoa– When playing the Egg and Spoon game, I will often have the rider whoa and drop their ‘egg’ into a bucket or set it on another obstacle in the arena. This forces the rider to not only practice a precision whoa (stopping their horse in an exact spot) but also to be aware of what their reins are doing while they are stopped. Often times after a rider stops they forget to release the rein pressure (and instructors often forget to reinforce this important final step of the whoa). During the egg and spoon game, if the reins are not released at the whoa the horse will often begin to back or turn (if rein pressure is uneven). If this happens we will freeze and problem solve in the moment. I often ask the rider to feel what each hand is doing and figure out why their horse did not stay stopped.
Leg aids for steering– Because a student is limited to using one hand for steering, this is a great way to incorporate leg aids and how they can help a rider steer their horse. Not all horses are automatically trained to understand to understand leg aids so this is something that you will need to school your horse on before you ask your students to attempt in class. Set your student and horse up for success by schooling.
Two point without using hands as support– Two point is another skill to incorporate into the Egg and Spoon race after the rider has steering and stopping down. Because the rider has to hold onto the spoon for the game, this is a great way to challenge them to not use their hands for balance. This is also a great way to practice smooth body position changes in and out of the two point because if a rider shoves their body up into two point or sits down hard they will most likely loose the ‘egg’.
Hands independent from leg and seat at all gaits– Teaching your rider how to have each natural aid (voice, seat, leg, hands) work separately and in unison are skills that should be reinforced every lesson. No matter if your student is a beginner or advanced rider growing or refining the use of the aids is a never ending skill to practice. The Egg and Spoon game is a great way to bring awareness to the rider’s ability to use the hand holding the spoon/tong separately from their seat and legs because if the hand does not function independent from the body and other hand when the rider is riding at a walk, asking for a whoa, posting trot, sitting trot, canter, etc. then they will drop the ‘egg’.
Hand and body position stability over jumps– Definitely a more advanced skill, but incorporating the egg and spoon game into riding over cavalettis or jumps is a great way to bring awareness to hand stability while jumping, soft change of body position over fences, etc.
The Egg and Spoon game can be applied in so many ways and is an awesome game for any level of rider. Bring back a classic an incorporate the Egg and Spoon game into your next lesson!
Written by Saebra Pipoly. Learn more about the author by clicking here.