• Yahel Applbaum

Obstacles made easy

Have you ever seen something on tv or youtube and wondered how they did that?

How come you see Road to the Horse colts perform obstacles your horse might not even get near? How come that horse was never exposed to that specific object but will still cooperate with the rider and brave through it?

Today, I’d like to explain why and how you can do the same, using things laying around the barn and maybe a few dollars out of your pocket.

In order to do that, we need to first understand how the horse views the obstacle- and may I say; they do not stop to think “blue tarp, hmmm… okay. I like it. Grey tarp, hmmmm… don’t like it.”

Building confidence in our horse and working on the element and not on the obstacle/ object will help us perform at any given situation, without having to introduce the specific obstacle to the horse, in addition and more important than anything, we want our horse to look for us in case they get in a bind or feel uncertain- on the ground or from the saddle.

Bottom line is, no matter what is the end goal of our training program or who is going to be riding our horse, we want to create a safe, gentle horse.

We want to create trust and build confidence; it starts from the relationship we build while starting a colt to the communication and language we develop with the horse, and eventually it adds up and becomes trust. We try to create situations which we can control to expose our horse while still offering them help and guidance, this is how we teach a horse to look for us at times of trouble.

Working on different elements while using obstacles is a great way to achieve that.

So, what are those elements I keep on talking about?

Elements are the categories which we can use to label our obstacles, for example- a jump would be a ground element with forward motion- therefore it doesn’t matter if we are going to jump a pile of tires, buckets or a log- if we can create that confidence in our horse regarding ground obstacles requiring forward motion the design or object wouldn’t matter as much.

As you can understand from the passage above, you can also combine the groups.

We have two main groups- Level and Speed.

Level; refers to the location of the obstacle- ground, eye level, height and carry on.

Speed; forward (walk/ trot/ lope), stop, lateral movement.

The more we work on the elements the more tools we’ll have in our tool box. Therefore we are more likely to have the ability to handle any situation given to us and our horses.

In order to make things a bit easier I have decided to try and make a table of the different groups and ideas of some obstacles that can be found in each group:

There are plenty more in each category, though most of the things listed here are things that can be created from random objects and don’t take much money nor building.

Every group can be combined with others to create different levels of difficulty- as shown in the video.

Now that we have our categories figured out it is time to get to work!

Here are some tips:

Always start from the ground- you can never get too good at ground work and it will not only save you time but a lot of frustration and trouble.

Make sure to prep your horse and start gradually with each obstacle to avoid accidents.

Make it your own- but make it safe! A platform for example can be made in a lot of ways, make sure it is balanced and strong enough to carry a horse’s weight.

If your horse is showing signs of uncertainty- don’t be griddy. Go back to the basics and help them- figure out what is causing the lack of comfort and work on it- don’t push them too hard- ego will get us nowhere in horsemanship.

Feel free to contact me at any point or ask for videos of a specific obstacle- I will do my best to help and answer all of your questions.

Till next time,