KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

Obstacle Courses Made Easy
Part 1
by Sharon Beck

We received these great ideas from Sharon Beck who built and uses these obstacles.

Obstacle Courses are a fun way to expose your horses to unusual situations and desensitize them to the real world. I've seen pictures of obstacle courses in magazines, but they all were massively built with timbers, railroad ties and the like. Being an over 40 women with very little building skills I needed some material that was easy to work with and that could be moved around easily by one person.

As luck would have it, I started training my dog in agility. Seeing all the nice agility obstacles built out of PVC pipe, I decided to try and build a few horse obstacles with PVC. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was. PVC is lightweight but strong, there are all sorts of angles and joints premolded to work with. You don't need to nail or screw the pieces together, you just slide the adjoining ends together and glue. It doesn't need painting, won't rot in the rain and can take a licking and keep on ticking.

Attached are pictures of the obstacles I was able to make myself. The horse shown in the pictures is my 5 yr old thoroughbred/holstener cross gelding. We started learning the Parelli methods this winter at Miller's barn in Kenosha Wis. They have weekly study group and John Harmes gives a clinic there once a month.

The Hula Loop

The Hula Loop is made using foam tubes which are normally sold as toys for kids to take into pools, I connected several to form a circle large enough for a horse to pass through. They are placed between two jump standards for support. Many horses are very leery about walking under objects. The first time my horse tried this, he stuck his head through the hoop, then got scared and threw his head into the air and ran backwards with his head hooked under the top of the loop. He ended up dragging the hula loop and standards several feet before it fell apart. For safety reasons when making these obstacles I make sure they will collapse if a horse does get tangled up into them.

Learning Skills:

    Lowering head to pass through an opening
    Dealing with having things above and below him at the same time
    Passing through a opening

The Garden Walk

I call this obstacle "The Garden Walk." Flowers are inserted in the PVC poles and there is a plastic tarp with a grape leaf design on the ground. The cross poles are added to slow the horse down. They also help him think about where to place his feet. The flags wave in the wind providing another possible distraction.

Learning skills:

    Walking on a plastic tarp
    Dealing with moving obstacles close by (flags)
    Stepping over poles on to a plastic tarp
    Strange looking objects (flowers)

The Streamer Door

This obstacle becomes more difficult on windy days. The plastic steamers make noise and can wave wildly in the wind.

Learning Skills:

    Dealing with moving obstacles
    Walking into moving streamers
    Dealing with having streamers touch different parts of his body

Continue to Part Two

Note: When working around any obstacles, you need to pay careful attention to your situation, your horse, any distractions and what others nearby are doing (what impact they may have on you and what impact you may have on them). Some horses may react unpredictably and you need to be prepared to guide them through any situation... or get competent assistance if you are not sure how to do so!

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