- Improves spatial awareness
- Develops problem-solving techniques
- Easy to set up and put away
- A great challenge – it's not straightforward
- A fun horsey theme
- Bright colours and appealing set-up
- Encourages inventive play as well as the structured challenge
- Loads of challenges so you can play it again and again
Price as reviewed:
Horse Academy showjumping puzzle game
Horse Academy is horsey board game for one player with a showjumping theme. There are various nine pieces that can fit on to the showjumping arena in a variety of different formats, with each piece containing a fence and a path denoting the horse’s route. The player chooses a puzzle from a booklet, which tells them which jumps to use, in which order and where the entrance and exit to the arena should be. They then have to work out a route around the arena using these parts.
The board games is designed for age 7+ and there are five levels, from “starter” to “wizard”. There are 80 different challenges within these levels, meaning there’s plenty of mileage in this game. As an adult, I thought I could begin at the middle level, “expert” but it turned out I needed to start from scratch with the most basic puzzle because it took me a while to get my head round how the pathways went. It turns out my spatial awareness is very poor and I couldn’t work out which way the path twisted! I really struggled with the harder puzzles and had to sneak a peek at the solutions at the back of the booklet – definitely cheating…
My children tried this out and quickly worked out the aim of the game and really enjoyed the challenges. My seven-year-old son is not horsey, but he understood the aim of the game, got stuck into the puzzle aspect and then loved steering the plastic horse over the course. Although the game is very structured in that you can only complete a challenge when the route goes the right way, it does give rise to inventive “free play”. My son soon established a combined training event whereby the horse moved on from the confines of the arena to various water jumps and other obstacles rigged up on the kitchen table. The rosette stickers are a nice touch, too.
My 15-year-old daughter had a go as well. She is horsey, and enjoyed the satisfaction of creating the perfect course. She said completing the puzzle felt “good for improving my problem-solving and spatial awareness”. Even as a teenager, she had a laugh steering the horse over some hair-raising jump-off angles – but for her it was more about completing a “wizard” challenge.
The bright colours, rosettes, and appealing arena are attractive. My one reservation is that those of us with kids have a job keeping the amount of plastic to a minimum in the house, and this is yet more plastic, however it tidies away quickly and neatly into its cardboard box and doesn’t take up too much space. I just would prefer the parts to be made of wood or something more sustainable, but I appreciate that would ramp up the cost enormously.
This is a fun game with a horsey twist, with plenty of challenges to keep players occupied. As it’s very straightforward in its concept, it is easy to pick up the aim of the game. However, this also means that because it’s quite samey, players are unlikely to do more than a handful of challenges in one sitting. For this reason I would imagine it’s a game you dip in and out of rather than play throughout a long rainy afternoon. However, younger children may well enjoy developing the initial challenge into fun role play, which may give rise to setting up an entire equestrian world around the kitchen table.
Who tested this game?
Martha Terry is Horse & Hound’s features editor. She has a horse and is at the yard every day. She is currently producing a four-year-old ex-racehorse with a view to eventing after several years off the circuit. Martha has four children, aged seven to 15.
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