Skip to content

Activity Inspiration: Stick Horse Races

June 6, 2022

Stick horse races are the perfect solution to get the blood pumping and jazz up regular foot races. They’re also a good jumping off point to talk about the interests of your participants, including horses, barn animals, cowboys, rodeos, etc.

Materials and how to play:

For traditional stick horse races, broom and mop handles will do the trick! However, if you’re working with especially young children or if safety is a particular concern, consider this quick DIY instead:

  1. Acquire pool noodles from your local discount or dollar store or ask parents and staff to donate old ones from home.
  2. Cut them down to size. For most young participants, a half-size pool noodle will be enough for an effective stick horse. You may wish to keep some longer.
  3. Fold the top end of the noodle down and secure it with twine. Now you have your horse’s head. Neigh!
  4. Keep it simple the way it is or give him some googly eyes and maybe a yarn mane. Then you’re good to go!

Begin with simple foot races to let the children adjust to the feel of their horses. Then make it interesting by setting up relay teams and challenge courses.

Extend the fun:

Having a blast with your stick horse race? Keep the fun going with these additional ideas:

  • Teach the children horse gates and commands, including woah, walk, trot and canter and play a modified red-light, green-light game.
  • Horses love to snack! Include horsey food, such as carrots, apples and oats throughout your menu for the day. Check out Snuffy’s Snack, a delicious creditable oat-based snack.
  • Include picture books about horses. Some options include Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble.

We want to see photos of your CACFP participants off to the races! Email us at or tag us in the photos @NationalCACFP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and stay tuned for more activity ideas.

_stick horse race (4 × 3 in)