Try this challenge at trot as much as you can but remember to progress you need to gently push yourself and your horse out of your comfort zones. It’s up to you to go as slow as you think you both need but to progress to faster when you can.
1) Go through gateway – aim is to stop horse before gate, you open gate and go through without horse moving and then at your request ask horse to come through gateway then turn to face gate whilst you close it. (either use gate to arena or field if safe to do so, or make a gate out of two electric polyposts and a bit of white tape or rope).
2) Put back feet and front feet into hula hoops so that all four feet are in two hoops – aim is to have a relaxed horse moving into them without worrying. (Remember that it’s not about the task, it’s about keeping your relationship with your horse and so do what you can and progress in your own time…it doesn’t need to be done NOW, it’s a challenge that needs time and patience)
3) Horse to trot through a narrow corridor – aim is for horse to be calm, relaxed and happy. (Make corridor as long and as tall as your horse can deal with or that you can make. If horse not happy about it then make it shorter in length and lower so that you don’t worry horse…progress during year to help horse to find this challenge easier)
4) Trot over pole and halt with pole under belly – (ie. front feet over only), wait 5 seconds then back horse off pole any way you want – aim is to have clarity on the stop and wait and a clean back up without hitting pole. (Refined way of on/off with this task is for handler to stay beside the horses shoulder but you can work in front of horse and ask for a backup from there if you want, refine it so that you can eventually stay by horses side when backing up)
5) Horse trots through a scary corner – handler on outside, making sure horse is calm and not rushing this. Make your corner only as scary as only your horse can take, flapping flags, bags, bunting, balloons, scary masks…what ever you have or you can make. (Remember again this is about getting this task better and better so start really small and do NOT frighten your horse)
6) Stand in front of horse and ask horse to sideways around you whilst you turn pivot – (Aim is for horse to be as straight as possible whilst doing this, he will have to move his hq’s more than his forehand on this one. GO slowly with this, if it’s hard for your horse then only ask for a couple of steps, it doesn’t have to be a full circle, ONLY what you and your horse can do but challenge yourself during the year to make it better).
7) Elongated weave with you at horses side – put 4 poles down parallel to each other about 3-4′ apart and go up and around each one in turn (see picture. (Main aim of this is to show that horse can follow you when you do left turns and away from you when you do right turns without getting upset)
8) Small jump – size only for what your horse can jump. (Aim is that horse does not rush jump or runs away afterwards, that he stays calmly with you throughout jump)
9) Go through a curtain – do whatever you can for this, I know curtains aren’t something everyone has…if no curtain then tarp over horse whilst standing still is good. If you have a curtain and horse is worried, tie back the strands on both sides and work up to just one side down and then both sides down.
10) Park horse (stand still) – walk away from him/her for between 10-20′ and then walk back. (Aim is for horse to relax and stand still…Walk straight away from his/her face and back up or even try leaving the lead rope on the floor (ground tying) and walking around your horse. Progression can be made with you further away from horse or even skipping around horse.
- Shelley – HorseSavvy