Monday, April 19, 2010

Horse Training – Preparing the Trail Horse for Ground Obstacles

Continuing on with our series on Preparing the Trail Horse, I have added a simple ground obstacle after warming up my horse.

In this case I’m using a simple yellow poncho with sandbags made out of socks to hold it in place.

Sometimes I’ll lunge a horse with the obstacle in place. I won’t push him over or through the obstacle, instead I’ll let him figure it out. Generally, horses are curious animals. If you give them the time, they’ll more often than not approach the obstacle and attempt to figure it out. They may blow air out their nose; they may move laterally not being sure if they should be scared of the obstacle or not; and, usually will drop their head to smell the obstacle and figure out its no threat.

It’s really something to watch a horse overcome his fear and get used to something. That’s the kind of horse you want to develop.

Anyway, in the video I lead the horse, in hand, up to the obstacle. This horse has seen a lot of strange stuff so he ain’t particularly concerned about it as you’ll see. I’m looking for a relaxed posture; ears moving around; feet staying in place.

I mount my horse and ride him towards the obstacle, stopping to let him drop his head, smell it and when he’s ready ask him to go over the yellow poncho. The mistakes some people make are to tighten up the reins and start pulling on their horse. Your horse also picks up on your mannerisms or your fear of him bolting or spooking,…. and his anxiety will build – in effect telling him that he needs to be concerned about the obstacles.

If you use this approach to all obstacles or objects that your horse gets concerned about, then you’ll going to be safer and your horse will be a much better horse.

Safe Journey

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