Pippa Funnell: The Golden Stirrup Challenge is a single player adventure game based on horse riding.
There's a back story to this game which revolves around rivalry between riding schools, the well funded Beechwood Academy which has used its financial muscle buy out smaller schools and the Sycamore Academy in Tuscany, Italy run by Jade and Patrick. There's also another story arc involving hidden treasure.
The game starts with Flora arriving at The Sycamores, she makes quite an entrance by crashing her scooter in the animated introduction and has to be rescued as the first act in the game. Once she's installed at the school the player sets up her timetable with training activities, and free time which can be either personal or on the horse farm caring for her horse. It's in the personal free time that Flora hunts for the treasure by exploring, talking to people, and reading books in the library.
As the game develops Flora's training in the disciplines of Dressage, Show jumping and Cross-country progresses and, as in a real school, her progress is monitored by weekly tests. Good results in these tests are essential if Flora's to enter the competitions in Italy, Alsace and China, hopefully defeating all comers and bringing honour and prestige to The Sycamores.
The control system for these events differs. In the Dressage, for example, the horse canters around the arena on autopilot. Scrolling across the top of the screen is a display bar showing the correct key sequence and it is the player's job to hit the appropriate arrow keys as its symbol passes the central target. Show Jumping involves steering the horse and rider around a course following line of pink arrows and making the jump when in the take-off zone at a time when the horse's mood is 'in harmony'. Cross country is very similar but there's no line to follow, just keep to the track.
As with other games of this type the player has to learn about and care for a horse, in this game it's a foal that must be groomed and trained.
The game is played via the keyboard though a mouse is used in the menu screens, action keys can be redefined.