Show Jumping!

show jumpingSaddle up! Today, we’re jumping stick horses over fences at the ultimate story time horse show! When a slew of horse show ribbons were donated to my library, I knew exactly what we had to do. Design a 6-fence course and jump our little hearts out. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see this pair on course, completing a clear round!

We read Scamper and the Horse Show, written by Jessie Haas and illustrated by Margot Apple (Greenwillow Books, 2004). Sisters Anna and Molly are excited about tomorrow’s horse show. But Scamper the pony isn’t too thrilled about being caught and bathed. He arrives at the show with a few brown and green stains, but there’s no time to worry about that – the classes are starting! Unfortunately, during Costume Class, a sudden rainstorm soaks the show grounds. Scamper’s costume (an American flag) leaks all over his grey coat. He’s now a multi-colored mess. But when the judge arrives, she sees a handsome rainbow pony displaying all the colors of horse show ribbons – purple, green, pink, white, yellow, red, and…finally…a blue ribbon for first place!

We made stick horses, affixed good luck charms to our “riding helmets,” and then jumped a course. Waiting at the finish line was a real horse show ribbon to take home!

blue ribbonYou’ll need:

  • A 10″ x 22″ piece of poster board for horse head (we offered brown, white, or black)
  • 1 horse head template, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper
  • A 9″ x 12″ piece of construction paper for mane (we offered brown, white, or black)
  • 2 long strips of poster board (approximately 0.5″ x 6.75″)
  • 2 short strips of poster board (approximately 0.5″ x 4″)
  • A 32.5″ length of PVC pipe
  • Packing tape
  • 2 large wiggle eyes
  • Hole punch
  • A 29.5″ piece of ribbon
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 good luck token template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ white card stock
  • 1 horse show ribbon
  • 1 set of stadium jumps (more on these later!)
  • Scissors, stapler, glue, and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

horse headWe’ll start with your steed! Fold a large, 10″ x 22″ piece of poster board in half. Next, print and cut the horse head template. Lay the template on top of the folded poster board – the horse’s nose should be flush against the fold in the poster board. Cut the head along the template.

horse head step 1Does this horse head looks familiar to you? That’s because it’s very similar to the stick ponies from this post. These horse heads are smaller (and the sticks shorter) because I wanted to avoid trip hazards while kids were jumping fences. The construction, however, is exactly the same. So I’m going to reuse the instructional photos from the past post here.

Use scrap pieces from the folded poster board to cut a pair of ears. Color the insides with marker, then staple them at the bottom.

earsStaple or hot glue the ears on each side of the horse’s head (you can attach them to the outside of the head, as seen below, or the inside the head):

forelock 1To create the mane, cut a 9″ X 12″ piece of construction paper in half lengthwise, and fringe the 2 pieces. Cut two, 3″ pieces of fringe off the ends and set those aside (you’ll use them for the horse’s forelock later). Now use hot glue, glue, or tape to secure 1 mane piece to the right side of the horse’s head. Repeat this same step on the left side.

maneTo create a forelock, make a 1.5″ cut down the fold of the head, directly between the ears.

forelock 2Slide a 3″ piece of fridge into the cut and secure it to the interior of the horse’s head with hot glue, glue, or tape. Repeat the same step on the other side. Trim (or curl) the forelock and mane if needed.

forelock 3Punch a hole on each side of the horse’s mouth. This is where the reins will thread through later.

reinsTime to decorate! Hot glue 2 wiggle eyes to the head and draw the nostrils and mouth with markers. To make a bridle, decorate 4 poster board strips with markers. The longest strips go down the sides of the horse’s head. The short strips fold across the horse’s forehead and nose. You can attach them with tape or hot glue. Here’s what a finished head looks like:

bridle detailsNext, unfold the head. Lay a piece of PVC pipe on one side of the head, making sure that the end of the pipe is approximately 1.5″ away from the fold. Use packing tape (not regular tape) to attach the pipe to the neck. Use at least 4 pieces of packing tape to make it really secure.

attaching stickRefold the head and put a few staples into the base of the head, around the pipe.

close up of stick staplesThread a piece of ribbon through the punched holes, and tie it behind the horse’s head! You’re done!

horse headWe needed to keep the kids busy while we set up the show jumping course, so we handed out black baseball cap “riding helmets” (which I purchased from Oriental Trading Company) and good luck token templates to color. To attach the token, simply fold it along the dotted line, slide it through the back strap of the cap, and staple both sides together.

token on hatGood luck tokens securely attached. Hard hats on tightly, horses and riders gathered outside the library, where their show jumping course awaited!

stadium jumpsKatie and I constructed these out of various boxes, wrapping paper tubes, tissue paper, poster board, and colored masking tape. I’ll admit, we went a little crazy. Yup, this one definitely ranks up there with the haunted dollhouse in terms of effort and mess. But just look at that topiary water jump folks! Beautiful! At the end of the program, we had a drawing and 6 lucky kids got to take home a jump.

A few practical matters. We kept the height of the jumps very low. The tallest jump (the brick wall) was only 10″ high. The jumps were made out of light material so they would fall over easily if hit (and not stub any toes). Happily, we had no falls and everyone (even the most timid 3-year-old) made it over the jumps with no problem. I had grand plans for an intricate jumping course. But in the end, good sense (i.e. Katie) prevailed and I set the jumps up in an easy-to-follow horseshoe.

On the show grounds, the riders lined up in single file at the starting cones. At the sound of a bell, each rider took a turn jumping the course. When he/she passed the finish cones, he/she got to choose a ribbon. The kids were THRILLED.

horse show ribbons While there were plenty of ribbons to chose from, we made sure to hold one super fancy ribbon back for the last kid riding the course. And now, how about seeing a rider in action?

The black jacket the little girl is wearing is a ring-bearer’s tux. Katie’s son wore it when he was 4 and a half. The lacy stock tie is from a “Colonial Gentleman” costume I wore for a history program. Who knew these items would later become the perfect riding ensemble?

Let Us Ride

let us rideDon your finery and trot the countryside on a beautiful, ornate steed! And if you happen to see a sturdy little pony named Fritz, don’t forget to stop and say hello!

We read Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1987). Once upon a time, there was a walled city that was famous for it’s beautiful horses. But outside the city lived a plain little pony named Fritz. Fritz wanted to be like the beautiful horses, but no one was interested in a pony with a shaggy mane, fuzzy ears, and a whiskery muzzle. That is until one day, when the bridge is threatening to collapse and the children of the city are stranded on one side. The beautiful horses are too flighty, skittish, and snobbish to cross the river and take the children to safety. But Fritz, being both gentle and kind, is more than willing to help. Now, the walled city is proud of it’s beautiful horses…and it’s hero pony.

You’ll need:

  • A 2.5″ x 22″ strip of poster board
  • 1 sheet of tissue paper (mine was 19.5″ x 11.5″)
  • 1 goose quill
  • 1 large embossed foil seal
  • 1 pony head template, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper
  • A 11″ x 27″ piece of white poster board for head
  • 2 rectangles of white construction paper for ears (approximately 2″ x 3.5″)
  • Construction paper for mane and forelock
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • 2 black dot stickers for nose
  • 2 strips cut from a manilla file folder (approximately 0.75″ x 9″)
  • 2 small embossed foil seals
  • A 41.5″ piece of PVC pipe for stick
  • A 35″ piece of ribbon for the reins
  • Hole punch
  • Packing tape
  • Stapler, scissors, tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

If you’d like to make a jingling tassel for your bridle, you’ll need:

  • 1 book (mine was 6″ long)
  • 12′ of yarn, plus a separate 3″ piece
  • A 9″ piece of curling ribbon
  • 1 jingle bell

 We’ll start with your noble hat, and then proceed to the pony with optional jingle tassel!

hatFirst, use the markers to decorate a strip of poster board. Circle the poster board strip around your head, then remove and staple. To create the poofy top to your hat, lay a sheet of tissue paper flat on a table.

hat step 1Gently lift and pull each corner of the sheet to towards the middle, gathering the corners together like this:

hat step 2As you can see in the above picture, the tissue paper sheet now has 4 “points” sticking out of it. Fold those points towards the center of the sheet as well.

hat step 3Your tissue sheet is now fully bunched. Carefully drop your hat band on top of the bunched tissue paper, and reopen the bunched edges until they meet the inside of the hat band. Staple the tissue paper around the interior perimeter of the hat band.

hat step 4Flip the hat over and tape a jaunty feather to the outside. Stick an embossed foil seal over the shaft of the feather to compete the look.

hatUp next…the perfect pony!

ponyFold the large rectangle of white poster board in half to form a smaller, 11″ x 13.5″ rectangle. Then, place the pony head template (shown below in red for better contrast) onto the folded poster board. Make sure that the nose of pony is lined up with the fold in the poster board. Cut along the template, leaving the “nose fold” intact.

pony template

Next, shape two ears out of the white construction paper rectangles, color the insides with markers, and staple each ear at the bottom.

earsThen staple or hot glue an ear to each side of the pony’s head.

forelock 1To create a forelock, make a 1.5″ cut down the fold of the head, directly between the ears.

forelock 2Fringe a small piece of white construction paper. Slide the fridge into the cut and secure it to the interior of the pony’s head with hot glue. Repeat on the left side.

forelock 3To create the mane, fringe a piece of white construction paper (use a 9″ x 12″ piece for a long mane, or a 4.5″ x 12″ piece for a short mane). Secure the mane inside the pony’s head, along the neck with hot glue. Repeat on the other side of the pony’ head.

manePunch a hole on each side of the pony’ mouth. This is where the reins and tassel will loop through.

reinsTime to decorate! Hot glue two wiggle eyes onto the head, and create nostrils using black dot stickers (you can also skip these materials and simple use markers to draw the eyes and nostrils). If you’d like a curly mane, wrap the construction paper fringes around a marker or pencil.

To make a bridle, decorate 2 manilla file fold strips with markers, and attach them on both sides of the head with tape or hot glue. Add a pair of small embossed foils seals at the bottom. If you have time, bring out the Bling Bin to add some extra flourishes, wind some curling ribbon through the mane.

ponyYou can see reins and a tassel in the above photo, but don’t put them on just yet! It’s time to attach the pony’s head to the stick. Open your pony’s head. Lay the stick on one side of the head, making sure that the end of the stick is 1.5″ away from the fold. Use packing tape (not regular tape) to attach the stick to the neck. Use at least 4 pieces of packing tape to make it really secure.

attaching stickThen, close the head and put a few staples into the base of the head, around the stick.

close up of stick staplesThread a ribbon through the holes in the pony’s head and knot it behind the stick. The jingle bell tassel dangling from the pony’s bridle is purely optional, but I have to say the kids LOVED them. I prepped the tassels in advance. To make a tassel, wrap yarn around a book (my book was about 6″ long).

tassel step 1 Cut the yarn off both ends of the book. You now have a little pile of yarn like this:

tassel step 2Knot a piece of curling ribbon around the middle (curling ribbon is easier to thread through the opening of the jingle bell)

tassel step 3Fold both sections of the yarn downwards and knot another piece of yarn around it like so

tassel step 4Trim overlong pieces of yarn off the sides and bottom of the tassel and you’re done!

finished tasselThread a jingle bell onto the curling ribbon, then thread the curling ribbon through the holes your punched in your pony’s head. Knot securely. Your pony is finished, climb on and ride!

If you’re still not feeling the decadence, may we suggest a cape? Attach a large piece of tissue paper to your shoulders using two embossed foil seals like so:

cape Then RIDE LIKE THE WIND!

flying rider