There is a lot of scope for changing, rearranging things as you want them but make sure whatever you do is within your horses scope for now and we’ll build on things as we go to incorporate more familiarisation with strange things and higher gaits.
It can be done in walk or trot or a combination of both…build things up slowly and keep your horses confidence. Also if you’ve not done any liberty yet or are having teething problems there is nothing wrong with practicing online to help you and your horse. Try to keep the horse with a slight ‘smile’ in the rope (ie. not tight but not too loose) and have the horse beside you so you are more shoulder to shoulder…not behind you.
1) 2 front feet into a hulahoop. (it could also be a bicycle tyre or a , the aim is to help confidence putting feet into things)
2) Weave around 4-6 cones, this month try to stay one side yourself and ask your horse to weave in and out
3) Horse walk through ‘L’ pole shape (stay out of the shape yourself, give the L lane all to your horse)
4) Small jump (doesn’t have to be big, if horse is confident you can make it bigger, if horse unconifident just stepping over it is good)
5) Walk through a ‘Scary Corner’ (make the corner up with posts and bunting or plastic bags flapping..anything that could be scary to a horse…now, if you’ve not done this before just put up a couple of things into the corner and walk by it or squeeze by it. If your horse has done this before then put up two ‘lanes’ of bunting or plastic bags and ask the horse to walk through it with you on the OUTSIDE. Not until your horse is truly confident, calm and happy about scary plastic things, flags, banners etc should you go in before the horse. Keep safe with this one and stay out of being in front of the horse until you are very good at this!)
6) Transitions: walk a straight line doing transitions: walk/halt/walk/halt/walk/halt…as many as you want or can. Keep confidence and relaxation throughout and a tip to use your breathing for these transitions. Big breath in and go, big breath out and halt.
7) Familiarisation with a flag. Either on a safe, short stick or free flowing in your hands (you can use a flag, towel, sheet, whatever you have available). With a horse new to this make the flag small and rub him/her all over. When more confident try opening it up and draping it over the horses back, neck, head. If very confident and horse is calm and relaxed then flap it all around the horse and you can move around too. See how much you can do, this is one of those things where you can start small and build up over weeks to where horse will stand still whilst you walk around it waving the flag!)
8) Sidepass along a fence line. Go slowly with this, go online if it’s hard at liberty. Do a few steps to start and more when confident.
9) Tarp: walk onto the tarp, halt in the centre for 5 seconds and then walk off.
10) Pick up feet one at a time. Either walk around the horse picking up one at a time or if more confident can you pick up the feet from one side!
Have fun with the challenges, build up each one individually and then string them together more and more until you can do it with true confidence.
- Shelley – HorseSavvy