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Getting Creative With Obstacles

Working with obstacles is one of the greatest ways to have fun, build your communication and develop good leadership skills with your horse. Obstacles are a great tool for developing your horse’s confidence and problem solving skills. To put it simply, obstacles teach your horse to be calmer, braver and smarter.

The easiest way to be creative with obstacles is to think about all of the different obstacles and direction available.

desensitisation-horses

Using the 6 basic directions

When you work with obstacles you have access to the 6 basic directions, forwards, backwards, left, right, up and down. Here are some ways to think about how to be creative with obstacles using the 6 directions:

  • Asking your horse to go forwards over, under, through or around the obstacle
  • Asking your horse to go backwards over, under, through or around the obstacle
  • Asking your horse to use the left and right sides of their body evenly using the obstacle.
  • Asking your horse to turn to the left or right through or around the obstacle

 

Using the 2 different types of pressure

When you are working with obstacles you can add a level of challenge by using the 2 different types of pressure, direct pressure and indirect pressure. Using direct pressure means you are asking your horse to follow a feel. Using indirect pressure means you are asking your horse to follow a suggestion. The best way to integrate this into your training process with obstacles is to use both types of pressure. Here are some examples:

Direct Pressure

  • Asking your horse to back through a gate using direct pressure on the halter
  • Asking your horse to pick their front feet up using a rope and getting them to place their feet on top of a pedestal
  • Asking your horse to put its nose on an obstacle by using downward pressure on the halter
  • Asking your horse to move sideways over pole pressing with your finger tips on their hind quarter and front end

Indirect Pressure

  • Sending your horse on a circle and over a barrel lying down
  • Asking your horse to back through two cones by wiggling the rope
  • Asking your horse to back through two cones using rhythmic pressure with your communication stick
  • Sending your horse sideways up to a barrel standing up using rhythmic pressure with your communication stick

Desensititation-horse

Getting creative with the way the horse interacts with obstacles

Another way to add variety and challenge, is to think about the many different ways you can ask your horse to interact with the obstacles that you choose to work with. Here are some examples of how you can get a horse to do a specific task with an obstacle:

  • Ask your horse to put their nose, front foot, hind foot, both front feet or both back feet on an obstacle
  • Ask your horse to pick the obstacle up with their teeth
  • Ask your horse to do upwards and downwards transitions at the obstacle
  • Ask your horse to stop at or on the obstacle
  • Ask your horse to turn round the obstacle
  • Ask your horse to go through the obstacle
  • Ask your horse to back up to, over, around and through the obstacle
  • Ask your horse to walk, trot or canter over, through or around the obstacle

 

Working with obstacles from different positions

Another way to get creative with obstacles is to ask your horse to do the obstacles from different positions. Here are the basic positions you can approach the obstacles from:

  • Riding: asking your horse to do the obstacle from in the saddle
  • Groundwork: asking your horse to do the obstacle while on the ground
    • Using a long rope: asking your horse to do the obstacle using a long rope (22ft lead rope) from further away
    • Using a short rope: asking your horse to do the obstacle using a short rope (12ft lead rope) being closer to the horse
    • Liberty: asking your horse to do the obstacle without a halter or lead rope

 

Customizing it to your horse’s individual needs

It’s important to remember that every horse will learn at different speeds and what is easy for one horse isn’t necessarily easy for the next. With this in mind it’s important to modify the process to fit the individual needs of your horse and its level of confidence and skill. It’s also important to consider your own level of confidence and skill, so that you can be realistic about how much you expect from yourself as well as your horse.

Using obstacles in your training process allows you to make things fun and interesting for your horse. Obstacles also allow you to give the things your horse learns purpose and meaning.

Have fun and remember the only thing you are limited by is your own creativity.

If you would like to incorporate more obstacles into your daily horse work or need help with other aspects of your horse training then contact us today. We offer Horsemanship lessons and horse training or come along to one of our Fun Horse Days or clinics!  

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