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How To Play HORSE In Basketball: Rules And Variations

How To Play HORSE In Basketball

Basketball is a game a lot of people enjoy playing and watching. If you have been around the game for a long time, then you would have heard of the game HORSE. And if you haven’t, you’ll learn how it’s done by the end of this article. Basketball requires energy and intensity, so sometimes it is great to play a more comfortable game like HORSE. It can also help you warm up before a game or cool down after a rigorous practice.

HORSE is a game that involves two or more players on a basketball court or an open space. The concept of this game is to match each other’s shots, that is, the next player must replicate the shot taken by the first person. The player who manages to score a shot that the opposition is unable to replicate wins the game. 

Why Is The Game Called Horse?

No one really knows why the game was called HORSE, but maybe the inventors of the game thought if the game had five shots, then HORSE would be an ideal name. This is because the word has five letters and is known by people of all ages. An alternative to the HORSE game is called PIG. PIG is a game that is played with three shots.

How Does The Horse Game Work?

How Does The HORSE Work

The game is very easy and fun, with simple rules. It is a well-known favorite amongst players of different ages. Each competitor in the game takes turns trying shots from any position on the court. All players have to mimic the shot of the first player. If you play first, then you are at an advantage because you can score a complicated shot which will be difficult for other players to imitate. You can include shots like fancy ball-handling of any form or behind-the-back dribbles. You can also try left-handed throws, even if you’re right-handed.

What Are The Rules Governing The Horse Game?

Rules Governing The HORSE
  • Jockey for Position: HORSE is more like a “Simon Says” game, but with basketball. To begin the game, all players must choose who plays the first shot. There is no rule concerning this, so they can toss a coin or do a Rock Paper Scissors game to pick someone. Whatever the case may be, whoever is going first, second, third and so on should be decided.
  • Fire Away: The first player holds the key, as he can take a shot from anywhere on the court. He can also explain what he’s going to do. And if he takes a shot that doesn’t fulfill the rules he stated? It means the shot doesn’t count. And if he is successful? Then his move has to be replicated.
  • Replicate or Create: The second player is permitted to shoot from wherever he wants and if he can satisfy all the rules he stated before taking the shot, then he gets to decide the next shot. The next player will try to imitate the shot that the previous player did and if he loses, he’ll need to take a letter from the word HORSE. If he has all five letters, he loses. Then the next player is given a chance to create a new challenge while they repeat the same cycle. The winner is determined when there’s just one player left.

Equipment You Need When Playing Horse

The good thing about HORSE is that it doesn’t require a full court to be played. You’ll only need a basketball hoop, a basketball and two or more players.

Horse Game Variations

The charm of the game is that it brings creativity and excitement. The rules can also be changed to keep things fun and either shorten or lengthen the game.

  • Race to Finish: In this version, anyone who can spell out HORSE faster than the others is the winner.
  • Think Outside the Stable: This is a popular way to shorten or lengthen the game. A common variation is to use the word PIG to shorten the game and use the word GIRAFFE to lengthen the game when it’s being played with a smaller group.


Occasionally, players get tired of the conventional way of playing basketball. The game of HORSE is a great substitute for that. It is a unique game which ultimately helps to improve basketball skills. The rules of this game are very straightforward and even little kids can partake in it. All you need to do is know how to develop your shooting skills and be ready to use them.

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