Setting up a horse obstacle course is not as difficult as you may think. You can use a variety of materials mostly sourced from repurposed items on hand. If you do not have what you need, you can ask family and friends or go to a junkyard to find obstacle course items.
The Three Actions Your Horse Needs To Learn
Making your own horse obstacle course will help your steed to learn to steer, lead, and desensitize. These are the three key actions that your horse needs to learn for horse show season.
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Steering is how your horse walks or runs based on your bodily movements. While you may walk side-by-side with your horse in some portions of the obstacle course, be sure to practice steering when you are mounted on him or her.
Leading is when one leg goes further than the other leg while running. Other cues are associated with leading such as knowing how to go forward and halting correctly. Leading is an important skill your horse must develop to successfully participate in a horse race.
Desensitizing is helping your horse to experience different objects and situations that may scare him or her. You can do this by putting a hula hoop over your horse’s face and putting safe tall obstacles for them to evade while running. You can twirl the horse’s rein side-to-side as a way to desensitize your horse. Go the extra mile and have different sounds on recorders playing throughout the obstacle course to further desensitize your horse.
How To Set Up A DIY Horse Obstacle Course
Setting up a DIY horse obstacle course is all creative and subjective. You can set it up however you would like.
Before you build your obstacle course, be sure you are in a large enough area for your horse to run, trot, and experience the different obstacles. Select safe enough materials that will not harm your horse if he or she jumps through or steps on it.
Here are some suggestions on how you can set up a DIY horse obstacle course:
- Repurpose old tires for your horse to go in and out of.
- Set up orange cones in a wavy pattern so your horse can learn to turn.
- Have poles or boards set up in a narrow path side-by-side for the horse to practice trotting in a narrowed pathway.
- Some horses may get claustrophobic so this is a great desensitizing activity.
- Use an old plastic or wooden barrel to successfully teach steering. The horse can walk around the barrel in a circular motion when these types of obstacles come up in a horse race.
The Benefits of Horse Obstacle Courses
Horse obstacle courses are integral for show season training. They not only keep your horse fit and ready for action, but they also help your steed to remain agile through almost any possible race situation.
Other benefits of having your horse go through an obstacle course you create include:
- Bonding with you and your horse as you get to know one another.
- Builds their confidence to go through different situations in general life and show season.
- Helps your steed to think before they react to one of the obstacles.
- Enhances a horse’s reaction time.
- Boosts their listening skills.
- Increases overall riding ability that helps you both bond and perform better during show season.
Final Thoughts About Horse Obstacle Courses
Listen to your horse and its needs before you set up the obstacle course. If you see he or she needs more desensitization, incorporate different sounds and items to help enhance their ability to handle what may scare them. If you have more than one horse, you may customize the DIY obstacle course based on the needs of each one.