As part of Make-It-Happen March and to introduce you to Horse Agility over the next few weeks we will be posting different obstacles for you to try on the website. We will be running a monthly introductory competition with different obstacles which you can use as a training exercise with feedback £3.75 – start any time or £5.00 for competition entry. This fee is offset when you join the International Horse Agility Club and receive 15% off your first year’s membership and two free entries into the Online Horse Agility Competition.
The objective is to use obstacles and set up a course that will help your horse to become braver and bolder. As you go over, under, beside or through the assorted obstacles you and your horse will become more confident. In the process of teaching your horse how to go through the course, you will develop a better relationship with your horse learning to communicate with each other.
We start with simple steps and over time the challenges will grow.
There are four categories:
1: In-hand with your horse in a head-collar and leadrope.
2: Walking with your horse at liberty
3: Riding your horse
There will be 7 obstacles each month and 6 must be attempted.
A video of you and your horse doing 6 obstacles is submitted. Marks will be allocated: 5 total marks are available for how the horse tackles the obstacle and 5 marks for the handling or riding.
While you can do the obstacles in any order, the video must be a continuous sequence so that you move directly from one obstacle to the next.
5 marks will be allocated for how the horse tackles the obstacle. As we want this to be primarily a good learning experience for both you and your horse, we would encourage people to listen to their horses’ worries. For instance if your horse can’t (for now) walk within 6 feet of flags, then find the distance where he is comfortable and submit that. Or if your horse can only stand without you for 3 seconds, then fine. Your horse being calm and relaxed will get you more marks than if you insist on an anxious horse getting it “right”.
The other 5 marks will be for handling. We will be looking for a soft connection between horse and handler, where there is good communication on both sides.
While there will be prizes for our competition, the main objectives are:
- For you and your horse to get out there and ‘do-it’.
- We want to help you build better communication with your horse
- Help your horse become bolder and braver
- To improve over time
- And have fun
The obstacles for the March competition are:
- Weave through 6 objects
- These can be cones, upright poles, upside down buckets, you name it. We have in the past used plastic 2L containers part filled with water and babies potties. Be creative! Cones should be set approximately 10 feet apart and this exercise is to be done at walk.
- Horse and handler can weave together.
- Standing alone
- Stretch 2 lead ropes out on the ground parallel to each other and 6 feet apart. Your horse must stand quietly behind one lead rope while you stand behind the other lead rope. Stay in this position for 5 seconds.
- Squeeze between 2
- Two objects at least 4 feet tall and at least 1 foot wide, are placed 6 feet apart then you and your horse walk calmly between them.
- You can use tall barrels, kitchen chairs back to back, large cardboard boxes – weighted down!
- ‘Flag’ Challenge
- Set up three ‘flags’ on the side of the arena or paddock or garden fence wherever you are working with your horse so that they are 1-2 feet apart and at a height of approximately 4 feet. You can use flags, tea towels, old Tee shirts, whatever you have handy. Be sure to pin them securely to the fence.
- Place a pole on the ground 6 feet out from your ‘flags (if you don’t have poles use a couple of lead ropes attached together or a lunge line)
- Walk your horse between the line and the flags. Your horse should be nearest to the flags
- Set up a small jump 10 -12 inches high. And wide enough for you and your horse to jump together
- Approach and jump at a trot/tölt
- Trotting over (as opposed to a jumping effort) is fine for this challenge at this level.
- Gate opening
- Open, walk through and close a gate with your horse while holding onto part of the gate at all times.
- If you don’t have a suitable gate, then set up a rope ‘gate’ between two uprights approximately 4 feet apart
- Crossing a ‘tarp’
- If you have some tarpaulin, fantastic. Fold it to a width of approximately 3 feet. Be sure to weight each side of the tarp so that it doesn’t blow up or catch your horse’s feet when you are crossing.
- Walk over the tarp across the width (3 feet) together so that your horse steps on the tarp
- For alternatives, use some thick plastic sheeting, bale wrap or try your local carpet store for scrap carpet pieces.