What's a Gymkhana Horse?

What's a Gymkhana Horse?

Gymkhana is a Western speed racing event where horse and rider compete in different classes of speed races. A Gymkhana horse should be agile and love to go fast. Gymkhana is often put on by local 4-H organizations or Pony Clubs as a way for kids to compete on their horses. 


The Characteristics of a Gymkhana Horse


A good gymkhana horse should:


  • Have a Calm Mind - You don’t want your horse spooking mid-event, or causing a schene as you exit and enter and arena. A horse with a calm mind will be safe and make your Gymhkana experience a positive one. 

  • Listen Well - Although the goal of Gymkhana events is to go as fast as you can, you don’t want to ride faster than you feel safe. A horse that listens well will stay within its rider’s abilities. 

  • Fit it’s Rider - Many Gymkhana classes involve jumping on and off the horse. You should be able to mount your Gymkhana horse easily from the ground without assistance. 

  • Be Sound - Making fast turns puts a strain on your horse’s legs. Many horses can handle this without a problem, but you want to make sure your horse is sound before asking them to perform at this level. 

  • Trailer Easily - Gymkhana playdates are held all over the country. There is probably one near you, but you will have to trailer to get there. Make sure your horse is comfortable in the trailer and loads and unloads easily. This will make your travels a lot less stressful. 

  • Enjoy Going Fast - Gymkhana events are at their core, a race! Make sure your horse likes to go fast; you want them to have as much fun as you do. 


Gymkhana Games


By now, you may be wondering what the different gymkhana classes include. The list below outlines the most common ones. 


  1. Speed Ball - Horse and rider race around a cone and must drop a golf ball inside on their way by. 

  2. Figure 8 Stake - The rider starts in the center and turns around two cones, crossing back through the center in the process. 

  3. Speed Barrels - Horse and rider weave through 3 barrels lined up in a row in a down and back race. 

  4. Figure 8 Flags - This is the same as the figure 8 stake, but there is a flag at each turn, and the rider must move each flag to the opposite spot. 

  5. Quadrangle - Horse and rider start in the middle of the arena and turn four turns (one in each corner of the arena) as quickly as they can. 

  6. Keyhole - A chalk keyhole is drawn in the arena. Horse and rider must enter they keyhole, turn around, and leave without touching the chalk. 

  7. Barrels - Horse and rider race around 3 barrels as fast as they can. 

  8. Hurry-Scurry - A down and back race where horse and rider go over 3 short jumps on the way down and back. 

  9. Big T - The team weaves, 3 poles, turns two barrels, in a t shape, and weaves the 3 poles again to finish.  

  10. Poles I - Horse and rider weave 6 poles, down and back. 

  11. Poles II - The team weaves 6 poles, down and back but they run in, start at the far side of the arena, and finish by running out. 

  12. Single Take - There is a cone at one end of the arena, and the race is around the cone and back.

  13. Birangle - There are two cones at one end of the arena. Horse and rider must go in, around both cones, and back out. 


If you or one of your kids loves to go fast on horseback, a Gymkhana Horse may be the perfect addition to your family. Enter your address into the search bar, click more filters, and select trainers and instructors to find the Gymkhana professional nearest to you.