Obstacle training can be of huge benefit to many horses. There are some of the fearless types out there, but horses will naturally tend to be a bit flighty in the presence of an unusual object, or that plastic bag in the ditch. For many horses the immediate reaction is flight, which sometimes results in an involuntary landing by the rider!
Can we help these horses to become braver? We certainly can. We can use our training skills to give them a different view of many strange objects and situations and encourage them to become more calm and relaxed around them.
One area where many horses struggle is going through a narrow gap. For this reason we can teach our horses The Squeeze.
Nautrun features in the video below. She is fairly green in terms of her training and has never done any work with obstacles before. Here she is being introduced to squeezing between two objects at least 1ft /0.3m wide and 4ft /1.2m high with a gap of 6ft /1.8m between them.
The training principles are:
– Start where your horse is comfortable. so pick two low objects and set them a wide distance apart to see if your horse can walk between them and be calm and relaxed. (If not go lower and wider)
– work on both reins
– work in both direction
– increase the difficulty of the challenge in achievable incremental steps
– Have FUN!
I’m using the term achievable incremental steps. For one horse who is already quite brave and bold, these steps may be quite big, while other more sensitive or nervous horses may need to take things in much smaller steps. It is important to work at YOUR horse’s pace and take breaks as required. Remember every horse is an individual. Your horse may need to just do a little in one session and come back to it again in another session.
For fun we decided to try a narrower gap.
She did very well so at the end, she is off the leadrope and going through solo!