Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let's Play a Game: Horse Computer Games

My yearly birthday ride celebrated with my brother and friend. 
Now, I don't know about you, but when I was a horse crazed kid living in a home with no money and a non-horsey dad, I still had some things to occupy myself with horses. I coveted all of my horse books and snatched any Thoroughbred Series or Marguerite Henry book from my elementary school library. I memorized all of the horse breeds, set up jumps and barrel courses in our backyard and watched all of the horse races I possibly could. But when I needed to fuel the fire of "owning" my own horse, computer games helped me keep imagining I had my own trusty steed to compete on.
Such a bad game

It started with the 1999 game "Let's Ride!" which promised to let you choose from 12 horse breeds to groom and take care of, as well as competing in show jumping, cross country and dressage. I don't remember much from this game other than being clueless on if I was actually grooming the horse or not, kicking ass at show jumping and being pissed at the dressage portion because I didn't know what they meant by half halts. I don't think I ever got to compete on cross country, but I do remember fun little things I learned here and there in the game.
I wish I had that much cash on hand, Mike.

The second game was probably the 1998 Daily Racing Form's Horse Racing Game. I loved this game. I got to buy horses, sell, breed and race. There were different tracks with low starting purses and where you could move up as your horse did better. You could be the jockey. You could bet. And they even had hidden cheat codes. The graphics weren't high quality or anything, but I had a blast pretending to be a race horse champion at all the things.

My homeboy, Barney, with a radish on his ass.
Horse Illustrated's Championship Season is still probably my most favorite game. There were four horses in the barn to take care of and everyone started out with Barney, the paint. As you got better, you could move up onto the other horses, but I stuck with Barney because we were buds. There were little games and trivia and videos to learn about things. You got to groom, pick feet, muck out pens and each horse had certain feed requirements. Dressage, show jumping and cross country was all fun. Cross country was my favorite.

I think I need to play this again.
Lucinda Green's Equestrian Challenge was also pretty damn sweet. I played this as a high schooler (I don't even care) and I enjoyed it. Your horse actually looked pretty horse-like, so that was nice. If I remember correctly, he was always braided, even in his paddock. When doing xc, you had to keep track of your horse's stamina, and had to practice before moving up through the levels. You could also choose different riding attire and tack. You even get to end up competing at Adelaide, Kentucky, Burghley and Badminton if you get good enough.

Of course, the horse game play was interspersed with Oregon Trail 2, Professional Bull Rider 2 and Extreme Rodeo. And The Sims. When it is just you and your brother all summer long while your dad is away at work, these games did just the trick. And now that it is fricken freezing outside and I am all diseased and stuff, I am half interested to find these games again and see how well I can do now. I wonder what "cowgirl" Alyssa back in the day would think of me now. Would I be horrified by all the breeches or english saddles, or would little me look up to me and think I am cool for riding an ex-racehorse over jumps? Did you play any horse games back in the day? What was your favorite?

19 comments:

  1. A little embarrassing to admit...ok who am I kidding, I have no shame - Mary Kate and Ashley's Winner Circle! I think there were missions or something I was supposed to complete but I mostly just galloped my horse around the different areas and did cross country competitions. I had Let's Ride and the racing game too!! Or at least a racing game that I wasn't very good at. I loved these games

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    1. I am pretty sure I played that one too! At my friends house. No need to be embarrassed.

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  2. I had exactly one PC horse game and I totally forget what it was! But I remember hating the dressage portion because I couldn't steer very well and sometimes my horse wouldn't respond to my aids (that sounds like dressage on my baby horse now!). The jumping was better, there was a green box you had to canter in and then push the jump button or you'd knock a rail/have a refusal. Every now and then I'd slice something super crazy because again, steering was hard.

    Now that it's winter and I don't have a horse to ride... maybe I'll try to dig through my old PC games and see if I can find it!

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    1. I may or may not have bought Let's Ride and the Horse Illustrated game to play again...

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  3. I played Mary King's Riding Star like an absolute crazy person. I was either at the barn, sleeping, or playing that game.

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    1. Never got to play that one but I had my own addictions to feed in to.

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  4. OMG ALL THE GAMES. Feel no shame at playing them in high school. I have A TON for PS2/Computer/Wii and yes, I still play them because all-things-horse + nerd. I never got very good at the more difficult dressage phase of Championship Season- for some reason running over the dots in the proper gait wasn't enough for them. I loved Equestriad 2001 game. I believe I had Let's Ride! but I don't remember the issues you mentioned. I also had Mary King's Riding Star (I think it was a set of three- Championship Season, Equestriad 2001, Mary King), and I despised the game. Cross country was too hard- if you didn't click just right on takeoff the horse bucked you off. There was another for PS2 that I can't remember the name that you moved up through the star levels at Kentucky, Burghley, Badminton, and Adelaide(?). I can't remember the name of the latest (while I was in college) eventing type game I got for either Wii or computer- but it's actually quite hard and there's a bunch of daily training you have to do in prep for shows. It's not an "easy win" for sure, which was nice after cruising though all the other games. But you can do an eventing focus, show jump focus, or dressage focus, and you move up the levels within each. It's definitely for older kids, or adults who enjoy being kids :-) I think I might go home and dig it out and see how bad I am at it again!

    Ok, total nerd here. I love horsey computer games. It's a weakness.

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    1. Because I am so nerdy, I figured out the difficult game: The Equestrian
      http://www.horsenation.com/2013/11/22/game-review-the-equestrian/

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    2. I never got to play The Equestrian but it looks pretty fun! Something more difficult would be nice, but I do enjoy the virtual brushing and stall cleaning. I don't know why. Maybe because I am a weirdo?

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  5. Is it bad that I've played every single one of these games? And more...

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    1. Not bad, it makes you that much cooler!

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  6. I had a few computer games but I don't remember what they were. One had to be Barbie horse riding. I mostly played the online SIM and RPG games. I played PonyBox and HorseIsle and a few others! I was obsessed

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    1. I played that Howrse game and Neopets for a little bit. And then retried it again with Blake in high school and he was beating me in both and that wasn't fun!

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  7. I haven't heard of any of those games...now I feel robbed of a proper childhood. D:

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    1. You can still play them, there is still time!

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  8. I think Mary King's Riding Star was the only PC game I played, although I was always jealous of those who could play an awesome racing game on the playstation. I never had a playstation *sob*
    In my midteens i discovered an online racing game that I actually still play and is where my path forst crossed L of Viva Carlos fame and is why I got into blogging ☺

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    1. Ha, that is awesome! I also found an online racing game when I was a young one, but then figured out it required my dad's credit card...um, better not!

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  9. I played Championship Season, Equestriad, Horsez 2, Saddle Up: Time to Ride, and Equestrian Challenge. Championship Season was the first one I played, so it definitely has a special place in my heart!

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  10. I appreciate your blog post, beautifully expressed and well written.
    BHS Training
    Pony Rides London

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