Joy Seymour: Mounted Games… for adults?

Yep, it’s a “thing.” Brand-new blogger Joy Seymour introduces us a sport for the young and young at heart.

Top: Chloe and Joy playing Bottle at Mid Atlantic Two, June 2013. Photo credit to Annie Seymour.

From Joy:

My name is Joy Seymour, and I’m a recovering event rider.

A few years ago, I started playing mounted games at home because my daughter Annie needed someone to practice with. We had three or four games ponies at the time, because we just always have ponies and our ponies always have to play games. I hopped on Sassy to help keep her fit for Olivia, another Pony Club member who was borrowing her. Sassy was 22 years old at the time, but still had plenty of energy for games.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Mounted Games is essentially relay races on horseback. Only we use ponies, because it’s a lot easier to get on and off a pony. A team consists of five riders and ponies, but only four play each race. The races include bending (which is just like pole bending, except each rider hands off a baton to the next rider;) stepping stone (called Agility Aces in MGA;) where you run across six upside down metal buckets while leading your pony; and balloon, where you gallop at a board with balloons on it and try to break one with a stick that has a nail on the end of it. I’m serious about the stick with a nail in it. The first year we went to Pony Club nationals, we saw the ambulance come twice for mounted games, and not at all for eventing. Guess what my kid wanted to do?

So after many years of watching Annie play, and coaching Pony Club teams, I decided to try it. I loved it. At my first competition, two years ago at MGAA nationals, I was on a fossil team named Black and Blue Crew. On a borrowed pony who had broken her owner’s hand the week before. I survived, and haven’t looked back. My current fossil team, Mischief Managed, finished this year’s MGAA nationals as Reserve Champions. Yes, Fossils is the name of the division I ride in. You have to be 21 to ride in Fossils.

There are two other main divisions at the bigger competitions, Masters and Intermediate. My pony, Southridge Chloe, is a Connemara with a sense of humor and a real love for games. Chloe’s favorite race is probably carton. We have to gallop down a line of poles, pick up a plastic water bottle type container from the top of the pole, drop in in a bucket and gallop back. Chloe had never played games before I started leasing her last December, but she has really figured it out. Chloe is 12 years old, and 14 hands. I’m pretty tall, so I wanted a larger pony. My daughter Annie is also tall, but she rides Masters on a 13.1 hand mare we think is a Hackney. Bellatrix was pulled off a slaughter truck two years ago and found her calling playing games. (Probably after scaring multiple children.)

If you think you’re brave enough to try mounted games, check out the websites for the two major organizations in the U.S.: MGAA and USMGA. It’s the only equestrian sport where you get to wear colorful knee socks! And it’s a ton of fun.


Bellatrix and Annie playing Bottle, MGAA nationals, July 2013. Photo credit to Equistar Photography.

Joy Seymour is a former event rider who has also foxhunted, shown jumpers and dressage, and done lots of other things with horses. As J.E. Seymour, she writes crime fiction. She lives in the seacoast area of New Hampshire.


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