Lots of fun can be had doing Agility with your horse. I find it helps with communication spook busting, finding a smooth connection, transitions and having fun, which is the most important thing.
This month I put just a few simple things together for a 9 obstacle course and did it at liberty then with long reins and finally ridden, you can start this online if your starting out and there are many ways to keep these 9 obstacles interesting, here are some ideas:
~ Online ~ at Liberty ~ Long Rein ~ Ridden bitless ~ Ridden with neck rein/cordeo ~ done in walk, trot or canter ~ done in obstacle order or in reverse order ~ juggle the order about ~ Choose to do completely different things with each obstacle ~
Beginners: start online in walk then trot
Intermediates: go to neck rope in walk or trot
Advanced: work at liberty in walk, trot or canter
Fun: try riding it (w/t/c)
Front feet & back feet in hulahoops (or walk over)
Trot over poles on tarp
Trot/canter through scary corridor
Trot through weave pattern
Transitions through narrow corridor (walk in/halt/backup/trot out)
Walk/trot over bottle bank
Walk/trot fig 8
Walk/trot through curtain
Trot through arch or jump hoop jump
Sidepass over or near an obstacle
Walk through water feature
Ground tie (immobility/halt) and extreme familiarisation with objects around horse
Liberty with Solly
Ridden with Solly
Try and test all the obstacles to make sure you and your horse know what to do at each one, make sure you reward for the slightest try and as you advance you do more with each obstacle, either stay longer, transitions or all at a higher gait throughout.
Once you know what to do with each obstacle then put them together as smoothly as possible as a course (if online then keeping a ‘smile’ in the rope as much as you can).
Set it up the best way for your area so it doesn’t need to be in this order or this shape.
Do not push your horse through or over things, accept what he gives you and teach him more as you go along. Repeat as often as you can for a horse that is a slow learner and make sure you mix it up often for a horse that gets bored quickly.
Remember it’s supposed to be fun….for you AND your horse 🙂
Just 5 challenges this time but push your progression to do these in an open field. Start slowly in a small area and work up to a higher gait in a bigger area. CHALLENGE YOURSELF to progressive, positive changes so that you and your horse get more and more connected in a common language that create signals for all that you do together.
1) Weave around cones on a circle. Use as many cones as you like, 5 is the minimum on a circle. Make the circle large or small depending on your skill and your horses flexibility. Start in walk together and build up to trot and more distance between the cones and you and your horse.
2) Stick 2 Me Transitions. Use as many transitions as possible, be on the left and right of your horse and see how straight you are together.
3) Jumps. Big or small jumps, as many or as few as you wish and done how you like, either one and stop, turn and jump again OR as a small liberty course…it’s up to you to know you and your horses abilities but remember to build up to more difficult jumps as you go and higher transitions between.
4) Spins. To left and right and even spins whilst leading your horse, see what you can do.
5) Back horse up from behind. Use cue from tail or any other you may have, do a least 6 steps and more if you and your horse are up for it.
I will be doing these 5 Challenges in our 10 acre field with the other herd members grazing around us. I test my horses connection to me by working in this area as they have the freedom to run off if they want or to stay with me. I cannot run as fast as they can but have a good draw back to me if they go faster than me. How connected to you is your horse in a big field?