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friendly game

October and Halloween are upon us. I’m sure you have plans to go on a Halloween trail ride, or to a horse show with a costume class, right? When we owned the RV park and stables, we always had an October event that included a horse & rider costume contest. People really got into it! They came to trail ride, but went all out with their costumes as well. I wish I had saved some of those photos.

horse costume

A real live rocking horse!

I really like to see the costumes that prove just how much these horses trust their owners. These take the “friendly game” to the extreme. I see so many comments on posts like this where people moan and groan about how they wish their horses would tolerate wearing costumes.  The good news is, your horse can do this…..if you prepare him properly.




This is all about the relationship you’ve built with your horse, how much he trusts you, and how well you think outside the box when it comes to exposing him to different things. You need to always use your imagination to come up with new and different ways to play with your horse. Everything you do with him helps to make him more accepting of whatever you ask of him.

Of course, you don’t just slap all these costumes on old Dobbin and let ‘er rip! You should already be using all sorts of strange things to “friendly” him. Other horse people call this “despooking” or “desensitizing”. We PNHers call it playing the “friendly game”. This is game #1 of the 7 foundation games we play with our horses.

The Seven Games (in this order – for a reason):

  1. Friendly
  2. Porcupine
  3. Driving
  4. Yo-Yo
  5. Circle
  6. Sideways
  7. Squeeze

Basically with the friendly game you are making sure you can touch your horse on every square inch of his body without him objecting.  Grooming is actually the first way we all use the friendly game. Then we take it to the next level by touching him with our tools — ropes, training sticks, saddle pads, saddles — anything he is going to have to accept in the normal course of riding.

This is exactly what we do when starting a young horse. If they won’t accept all these items, how can we expect them to accept a person on their back?

A John Deere horse of course!

Once you get the horse used to the idea that you put things on him, over him, under him….he learns to trust that they probably won’t eat him. Then you can try costumes such as any of these.

Test out each type of costume piece one at a time — probably with something you don’t care about. Simulate the type of movement that will occur when he walks with the item attached. I can only imagine what these spider legs do when this horse moves!

horse costume

Miss Muffett and her Spider!

Be prepared for the horse to jump, back up, or try to run away from the spooky thing. Make sure you have a long lead rope attached and are in a safe area where there’s nothing he can get hurt on. Of course, if you’ve properly prepared him before this point, there may be nothing to worry about. But I always plan for what might happen and then be glad when nothing does.

To see 25 amazing costumes for your horse, check out the entire list in this fun article I found:

Equinely Spooky: 25 Best Horse Halloween Costumes

I hope you have fun coming up with a great idea for your horse & rider costume.

We’d love to see a photo!

If you have any issues you can’t figure out when trying to take your friendly game to the extreme, I’m always happy to answer your questions. Send me a message and we’ll chat! —> CONTACT





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