Have You Ever Played Mug Shuffle?


Have you played equestrian games called “Tool box scramble”, “Socks and bucket”, or “Hug a mug”? If not, let me introduce you to the growing sport of equestrian Mounted Games.

Mounted games is a sport in which very fast games are played by people of all ages on ponies up to a height of 60 inches (152 cm).

1. What is the maximum height in hands the ponies can be to compete in this discipline? (To answer this question you need to know how many inches or centimetres equal a hand. If not, take a peak in the answers section.)

equestrian mounted games

Look at this turn!

This sport is played in teams of five riders (or in pairs or individually) each riding a pony. There are numerous games such as relay races or agility and dexterity games. Depending on the game, each rider must perform a different exercise: drop off, pick up or grab objects such as bottles, flags, mugs, socks, weave between poles, stop at certain points to perform a specific action, dismount and remount quickly, lead the pony of a partner of the team, run etc.

This year the World Team Championship took place from 2014 08 21 to 2014 08 24 in Gisors, France with seventeen countries participating.

2. In what month were the team championships held?

The games are not timed. Riders and their ponies race against other teams (or pairs or individuals) and the first one to complete the course is the winner of that game.

Mounted_games_arena_metricA big competition may have 50 or 60 teams, too many to all race at the same time, so the teams are divided into groups. The field is set up to allow a maximum of 8 teams to race in a group at any one time.

3. Imagine you are responsible for organizing the first session of games. Fifty-six teams sign up. How many groups would you have to create for the first round?

The graphic to the left shows the layout for the field or arena for a Mounted Games competition. The measurements shown are in metres.

4. What is the total length of the Playing Area, shown in red?

5. What is the total length of the playing field?


6. What is the total width of the playing field?

7. The word “min” is shown in three places in the arena layout. Can you guess what “min” refers to?


Scoring is done very simply. If 8 teams are competing then the winning team gets 8 points, the second place gets 7, and so on.

Scores are accumulated during several qualifying sessions, each of which may have several heats. On the last day (a big competition usually takes 3 or 4 days) all competitors are ranked based on their total qualifying scores, and play again in an A final, a B final, a C final, and so on.

Heat 1 result

The chart above shows the results from Heat 1 at this year’s championships.

8. How many teams competed in this heat (group)?

9. How many points would a team receive for winning a game?

equestrian mounted games on the run

Sometimes you have to mount on the run!

10. Add up the scores to find out which team won the first heat. (These aren’t big numbers, why not see if you can do the addition in your head!)

So what happened at this year’s World Team Championships? The teams from seventeen countries competed through four qualifying sessions. The session results below show the scores of the top six teams.

11. Imagine the judges hand you the score sheets. Total the team’s session scores.

session scores from Mounted Games

These were the scores that got each team into the final round. They still had two sessions to go through to determine the winner! The first session included races like “Bang a balloon”, “Pony express”, and “Flag fliers”. The second session had a whole new set of games, “Sword lancer”, “Windsor castle”, and the “Mug shuffle”.

scores Mounted Games finals

12. Total up the scores from the final two sessions and place the teams in order of finish.

Do you and your friends play competitive games like these? Have you invented any games? What are the rules? Are measurements and scoring involved? If you have, share your game with others in the comment box below!

Before checking your answers, here’s a great video showing what it is like to compete in mounted games!

All photos courtesy of the Mounted Games FB community and the International Mounted Games Association
Special thanks to Nicole Horan Russo for her great pictures!


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