I am an aged care nurse in a care home and I also cover the position of the activities officer when she goes on holiday. Because I knew I was going to be doing it for a month, I wanted to try and make a new game for them to play that was interactive as well as fun. That is where the idea came for the horse racing game.
I have made a target shooting game in the past and they love to play it. The great thing about this horse racing game is that it can be adapted in size to be played on a table. The residents can sit around a long table with the track was down the middle. This version will be a large track so the residents can stay in their comfortable chairs while they play.
How to make a Horse Racing Game
Making the horses
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This project was made from all recycled wood from my scrap heap which is why all the wood is different. To make the horses you will need to find a silhouette of a horse, I found this design doing a search for free images. Try to keep the design plain so it is easier to cut. It is not ideal to have lots of small thin bits of wood sticking out like the tails. The reason for this is there is a good chance the horses at one time or other will be knocked over and those pieces will break off.
Print the images onto paper to the size that you want, large for a big game small for the table game. Use a spray adhesive to glue the images to the wood so they doing move during the cutting process. Cut out the design with a jigsaw or scroll saw depending on how intricate your design is.
Making the base for the horse
For the base, the wood was cut as follows 6 x 200mm (L) x 120mm (W) x 20mm thick. Next, you will need to add a support block, this should be deep enough so the support dowel and heavy enough to stop the top-heavy horse from falling over. Alternatively, you can just cut one large chunk of wood but I wanted mine to look good too.
The smaller blocks were cut to 6 x 100mm (L) x 70mm (w) and 60mm wide. The dowel used was 16mm and cut to a length of 800mm. I know this does sound long, but it will prevent back pain because you will not have to keep bending over to move the horse.
Using a spade bit or drill bit if you have one of the correct size, drill a hole in the centre of the smaller chunk of wood.
Assemble the base
You can now paint or stain your wood. Next, attach the base to the support block, add wood glue and screw the two blocks together from below. You will need to countersink the screws so that the horse sits flat.
Next, you can glue the dowel into the block of wood with suitable wood glue.
Making the horse numbers
Each horse needs to have a number that will match up with the number on the race track. I used scrap wood to make these. Draw a circle the size you want, mine was big so the resident could see them from their chairs. Cut the circles out with a jigsaw.
Attaching the horse and number
I needed a way to attach the numbers to the dowel at the top of the horse. This is a very basic way to do it, but it works. Place the dowel flat against the circle and drill a hole on either side of the dowel. The holes must be big enough for a cable tie to pass through.
To attach the horse to the dowel, you will need to drill a 16mm hole underneath the horse. This was where I picked up that my horse was the wrong shape. I needed a flat section to cut out my hole, so our horses had to lose a leg. So we now have 3 legged horses.
Painting the horses
You will need to paint each horse a different colour so they are easy to identify. I used a scrap piece of dowel to hold my horse in place while I painted both sides at once to save time. I used a mixture of Unicorn Spit stain and glaze and acrylic paints to paint the horses. The number disc needs to be painted in the same colour as the matching horse.
Numbering the horses
Each horse needs a number that will match up with a number on the track. I used a large stencil and a permanent marker pen to add mine. It is a good idea to put the numbers on both sides of the horses so people on both sides of the track can see them.
Seal the horse with some oil-based polyurethane. The horses and numbers can now be attached to the top of the dowels. The numbers were attached with a cable tie to the dowel. Please ignore my wood scrap heap in the background.
Making the track
I was given this big roll of thick paper from the local paper mill. You can use astroturf or kraft paper or even green felt carpet. If you are making a large game like this one your track size will be10 m long and 1.4m wide. For cosmetic purposes, the track was painted green to resemble grass. You can use poster paint and a large foam roller to paint the track quicker.
You will need to support the edges with duct tape if you are going to be using your game on a regular basis.
Marking out the track
Using a straight long piece of wood works well for this step. Divide the track into eight sections across the width, this is the lanes for the horses. Next, divide out the length slightly bigger than the base of the horse. You will need 2 extra lines, one for the finish line and one for the track number. Draw in the lines using a black sharpie pen. I used the stencil and sharpie again to add the numbers to the track.
How to make large foam dice
I looked on the internet for large foam dice but I was unable to find a suitable one, so I made my own. Find some suitable sized foam like a mattress or a recycled couch cushion like mine. Cut 2 pieces of foam 10 cm square, an electric carving knife works great to do this.
Cover the dice in a suitable fabric, mine was a stretch velvet. To make the dots on the dice you will need two different colours of felt. One for the number of the horse and one for the number of moves the horse will make. Each dice is made up of 21 felt dots, which you can glue to the fabric with suitable glue.
I had no idea how to configure the dice, so here is one I found on the internet as a reference. (This is not my image)
Making the horse tickets and money
So everyone knows which horse they have picked you will need to make some horse tickets. Using Microsoft word, type up a design with the horse number on like the image about. You will also need to make one for your prize money if that horse wins the race. If you are going to be using the game on a regular basis it is a good idea to laminate these tickets.
How to play the game
At the start of the game, each resident picks two different horses, which they have for the whole session. To get everyone in the mood and to announce the start of the game you can play the Lone Ranger theme song during the game. The first person to play thrown the first dice which picks the horse. Then they throw the second dice which is the number of moves that the horse gets to move. The horse that gets to the end first gets 1 horse dollar.
To make this game last a little longer you can only go out with the correct number of moves on your final dice. Meaning, if the horse is 3 away from the end the dice must be a 3, if they throw a 4 the horse stays where it is.
To make the game more exciting you can add Hurdle cards to each track. An example of hurdle cards is, go back 2 spaces, move on 3 spaces, go back to the beginning and so forth. You can make up your own.
The person with the most horse dollars at the end of the session which is an hour can pick first from the prize table. The second-highest picks next and so forth until the prizes are all gone.
More great projects
If you are making this game for a nursing home you might also be interested in this perpetual wall calendar. This is a great project so everyone can clearly see what day and month it is.
Or another game you may like to build is this velcro target shooting game.
If you are looking for any of the items used in this project, please consider using our links. By clicking on the links we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Which helps us come up with new and exciting ideas to share with you. Please feel free to share or leave a comment we would love to hear your thoughts.
HelenSeptember 18, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Thank you for posting this! My friends and I were talking about a similar game we played as kids at a local community center. We were talking about bringing it back with toys as prizes.
Anita HollandSeptember 18, 2018 at 10:43 pm
You are very welcome our residents love the game.
Phil Lamerton, UKNovember 27, 2018 at 12:44 pm
You’ve made a great job making this game, the horses look really good. I made this game a while back for a family gathering at Christmas but with a few differences. Some things I did differently. One dice had colour discs on the faces. The horse cut outs where just large coloured horse heads with offset broom handle dowels on each side. Each horse had its own name ie. Red Arabian, Blue Moon, Yellow peril, Green Goddess, Black Beauty, and White Gold. The game was played in the same way, the horse’s colour thrown, moved, but the main difference was that six players actually took their horses head and became the ‘jockeys’. They moved, themselves, along the track which was made by putting sticky tape on the floor in a grid, (if outside you could use chalk). To add to the fun, anyone who wanted to join in could put a bet on the winner, using the tote system. There were about 30 of us in the group so the ‘riders’ and odds changed in each race, which added to the excitement.
This game could also be used as a fundraiser by having a ‘Race night’ with six races and a grand final, made up from all the previous winners, making a full evening, selling tickets for a meal and drinks. Money could also be raised by getting local businesses to sponsor a race for example ‘The -Butchers- Steaks’, ‘The -Sports Shop- Hurdles’, ‘The -Wedding Shop- Maidens Chase’ and so on. As well as taking a share from each race (working the tote), perhaps giving some back towards the ‘Big Prize’ for the final winner.
It could also be used just for fun by children at a party/function with donated prizes. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to post a photo of the heads I made!
Anita HollandDecember 7, 2018 at 2:41 am
Thank you, Phil, for taking the time to leave a lovely comment. I made this one especially for the residents at the care home where I work as a nurse and they love it. It is totally hit on Melbourne cup day which is a big horse racing day. Your game sounds great, I could imagine it would be really fun having all the jockeys playing there part getting everyone in the mood.
gary grabarzJuly 12, 2019 at 6:41 pm
EXCELLENT GAMES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS…
Anita HollandJuly 13, 2019 at 2:28 am
Thank you, Great for all ages and groups. You could even use the children as horses. That would be fun for them
Lydia C. LeeAugust 20, 2019 at 8:58 pm
What fun. That would be perfect for Melbourne Cup lunch….
Anita HollandAugust 22, 2019 at 11:33 am
Thank you, our residents play it every Melbourne cup. They love it.
Rhonda GalesAugust 21, 2019 at 9:48 am
My family loves horse racing. This would be a hit in my house. Thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best.
Anita HollandAugust 22, 2019 at 11:35 am
Thank you, This can be made for table size suitable for dinner parties.
CeciliaAugust 27, 2019 at 12:19 am
How fun! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!
Lisa L LombardoSeptember 3, 2019 at 12:37 pm
This is very cool! Thanks so much for sharing on Farm Fresh Tuesdays! Hope to see you again today!
Anita HollandSeptember 4, 2019 at 8:00 am
Thank you so much, I will be back. LOL
JulieSeptember 7, 2019 at 2:49 pm
What fun! I’m sure we had a similar table top game when we were kids. I love your giant size version. The residents will have fun with that for years!
Anita HollandSeptember 7, 2019 at 10:52 pm
Thank you so much, It is a fun game.
MichelleSeptember 8, 2019 at 6:39 pm
Very cool! It’s not easy being a nurse in a care home. Thank you for doing this difficult work. And thank you for linking up to a restive Compulsions!
Anita HollandSeptember 9, 2019 at 11:54 am
Thank you so much, nursing is not the easiest, but it sure is the most rewarding.
JulieOctober 22, 2019 at 7:31 pm
I have been looking for this game. Are you selling these. Unfortunately I’m not that crafty or have the time to make this. But I would love to buy this.
Anita HollandOctober 24, 2019 at 4:31 am
Hi Julie, Sorry I don’t sell them. I made this one for our residents at the aged care home where I work. I am not sure where you live my here in Australia most towns have a men’s shed, where retired men go to do woodwork. They are always happy to make things like this.