SBS Guide to: H-O-R-S-E

Written by :
Published on : May 13, 2017


H-O-R-S-E is a basketball skills/shooting competition that can be enjoyed with any number of players (2 minimum). This driveway staple has been providing NBA inspired thrills for decades. It’s one of the truly perfect and simple games that will live forever because it’s easy to play and very satisfying at all ability levels. Gather the crew and crack some sports drink, this is your ScoreBoredSports guide to H-O-R-S-E.



Basic mechanics are like this. Player A calls their shot from the floor, if they make it, it is now on Player B to make the same exact shot. If Player B misses, they get a letter (An ‘H’ if it’s your first). Get all the letters to spell “HORSE” and you are out.


If Player A misses their called shot, then it’s Player B’s turn to call a shot. After a letter is given out, the next player in the order is up. So in a two person game, the loser gets a letter and the winner is back to picking a challenge.


When playing with a group, same rules apply, the person who misses the shot gets the letter. So if Player A makes a hook shot from the elbow, then each player goes until someone misses. If everyone makes it, Player A must invent something else.


horse dunk


Rule variations

For a shorter or longer game, change the target word. Instead of H-O-R-S-E, we would play P-I-G or G-R-A-N-D-M-A-M-A depending how much time we had.


If Player A calls a shot and everyone makes it then player A gets a letter. This rule encourages you to take difficult shots. Player A is such a wuss for playing it safe.


Try teams. You and your partner takes turns shooting but collect letters together. This only seems necessary if you have huge numbers that want in and if that’s the case then just play real 5-5 basketball.


Play on horseback. Never done this, seems too rich for my blood. Could be awesome. Isn’t this just polo?



Practice a trick shot. At least one move that’s irregular and you have decent odds of making. Every game of H-O-R-S-E I’ve ever played had some jerk making a backwards shot that no one could reproduce.


backwards shot 2


Play to your opponent’s weaknesses. Do you know Timmy can’t use his left hand? Then maybe a reverse southpaw layup may trip him up. Or maybe the other players don’t have much range, try a 3 from well beyond the line, Steph Curry style.


If you are way out-classed in terms of basketball skills then make sure you are at least smarter and better at spelling than the competition. That may buy you a few extra letters before you get bounced off the cooouuuurrrttttt.


H-O-R-S-E rocks because you don’t have to break a sweat to feel like you’ve competed. Plus it’s possible you can beat a much more athletic person than yourself. And in general, it’s a great lazy way to spend a summer day. My go-to shot is the granny-style free throw. Leave your fav trick shot in the comments below and maybe I’ll see you in the driveway. At least until the street lights come on.


No real horses were harmed in the making of this.



My first time horseback riding

Written by :
Published on : January 25, 2017



Over the weekend, I went horseback riding for the first time ever. As a child, I once sat on a pony while it was forced to walk in a circle at a random carnival but I don’t really consider that riding. This all started as plans for my friend Rita’s birthday. She organized a day trip to Griffith Park Horse Rentals here in the Los Angeles area. I had my usual instant repulsion as I do with all new things outside my comfort zone and I didn’t RSVP. Finally, I decided “Fuck it, I’m in”. When am I going to have this chance again? Because I would never do this on my own.


We arrived at the stables and met our friends at the check-in table. The only thing I knew coming in was to wear pants, closed toe shoes and it would cost $25 plus a tip for our guide/instructor. Cowboys hats recommended, not required. First step was completing a lengthy waiver where you initial and sign our life away (in the event of an accident). This was all done on iPads but the place only accepts cash. Strange.


horse rentals gate


Once we completed the legal, we each had to pay. I had my $25 ready when the lady running the show told me to step on a nearby scale. No one else had do this so far. I hated the number the scale read and apparently that means more than just shame. It would cost me $35 for the hour ride. The proprietor didn’t have to explain. It was your classic fat tax. I paid but my feelings were hurt.


The lady pointed out a rack of helmets in the stable, I wanted to be cool enough to turn down the optional protection and let my dope bandana do the talking but the chances of me falling off the horse seemed more than reasonable. Plus I had just signed that long contract and didn’t even try to scan any of it. I choose a large white bike helmet and strapped it on.


Our crew was quite large, maybe 15 riders plus two guides. They circled us up in the gate area and we were given a brief tutorial. I expected a longer speech but nope, here comes the business. A guide would match riders with a horse. You climbed a small set of stairs and hopped on. I was nearly last and feeling nervous. Then they brought my horse. Roland. He was gigantic. Like a blond Budweiser Clydesdale. And suddenly that extra $10 made total sense. I needed a large horse. Everyone else on the team was rocking mediums while I was driving Roland. Or Ro Ro as I often called him.


Bruno on horse


I joined the others at the start of the path. Roland pushed his way through my mounted buddies and found the fence. I gave a test tug on the reigns and he flared his head back like he hated it and me. Roland chomped on some grass while we waited for the last riders. Overall, there were a few large horses but mine was still the biggest and coolest. The real question was, would he listen to me?


Our main guide took the lead and started us down the path. The great part about being on the horse in this scenario is that they mostly follow each other and they run this path multiple times a day. So they know where they are going and they won’t do anything that would endanger themselves and by proxy, you. That being said, there was still lots of freedom on the trail. This isn’t some slow, daisy-chained nonsense. It’s you on the horse and unless you are screaming for help or under visible duress, you are on your own. You also cross the driveway, right off the main road you enter from and I still assumed my horse would run into traffic.


We get moving and Roland sprints through the pack and gets upfront. Second behind the guide. This is a position we would maintain for most of the ride. Not because of me, but because Roland demanded it. And it wasn’t coincidence. If another horse got ahead of us, Roland would speed up and cut them off to retake the spot. The trail was really pretty and had lots of fun details like bridges, tunnels, inclines and even one muddy descent. Roland did great and he even starting taking a few of my suggestions. I felt like we were bonding but maybe I’m just projecting. Like when a guy thinks a stripper actually likes him.


horse team


All the recent rain made for a muddy run. But every time I thought the the road looked slippery or treacherous, Roland would expertly navigate each straight. He did have a penchant for walking painfully close to the edges of drop offs and into groups of branches but I chalked that up to him teasing the new guy. It was truly an awesome experience. I felt like an warrior on my steed, racing into battle. Even if help was standing by.


My basic takeaway is that these horses see us as substitute teachers. They can instantly tell when you saddle up whether or not you know what you’re doing. And if they determine you are a newb then they become the boss. Examples of this in our group included some biting, some bucking and some general horseplay. But that’s what made the experience real. This wasn’t the carnival pony ride, this was legit horseback riding. It was thrilling, tons of fun and weirdly humbling. Hats off to the staff of Griffith Park Horse Rentals, they run a great operation and they helped me cross something off my bucket list. Everyone should get on a horse at least once.


Giddy up.



SBS Remembers: A Horse Named Upset

Written by :
Published on : July 1, 2016


August 13th, 1919. Saratoga Race Course, New York. The legendary horse, Man o’ War, comes into the race as the heavy favorite and boasts an undefeated record. But this story isn’t about Man o’ War, it’s about a horse named Upset who surprised everyone and cemented its place in history. This chapter of SBS Remembers takes us back almost 100 years for an underdog tale that still manages to be relevant today.


Let’s really set the stage. Man o’ War won 20 of 21 races in his lifetime. With his only loss coming from the hooves of Upset on that fateful day. Plus, Upset had already lost to Man o’ War in six prior contests. So no one, I mean no one, thought Upset had a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Man o’ War. But history has a funny way of making itself. The horses and jockeys lined up and waited for the start.


BANG, they were off. Everyone but Man o’ War, who was the last horse to leave the line. Upset shot ahead to the front of the pack. But Man o’ War is a champion for a reason. He battles back and closes in on Upset whose lead is almost totally gone. The two stallions gut out the last stretch and Upset wins by a nose. Experts argue that with a slightly longer track that the heavier (by around 15 lbs) Man o’ War would have caught up and won. But the track wasn’t longer and Upset is the unlikely winner. Forever tying the name Upset with a surprise outcome. 


upset 2


I just love this story. An epically huge win and we get a new word added to the sports lexicon forever. A term we really use and not just in athletics. Upset is part of the normal vocabulary and we have horse racing to thank. A Cinderella story is nice, but I’ll take the underdog tale born out the hearts of thoroughbreds.


I wish this was the end of the adventure. But I stupidly did more research and was horrified to discover that this event is NOT the original origin of the term “upset” as a reference to a shocking outcome. This news was really deflating. I mean the story was so perfect but it was not to be. There are records going back to 1877 that predate this race and other historical documents that use the verbiage. What a total bummer.



upset 3


After processing all this, I still make the claim that it took the high profile win of Upset over the Hall-of-Fame Man o’ War to really popularize the “upset” term. Just think of all the newspaper headlines. Those old sportswriters must have had a field day. And that’s when the word really stuck in people’s minds. So maybe the horse didn’t coin the phrase but it for sure made it a household expression. And here at ScoreBoredSports, we think that is still worthy of recognition.


So we take out hats off to a horse named Upset and the jockey, Willie Knapp, for pulling out a great win and giving us an even better word.





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