Training Tip: Introducing New Obstacles From the Saddle

 

From the time you start your horse on obstacles you must graduate carefully not asking for too difficult of obstacles until you feel your horse’s courage and trust growing.    The first time you do something they are trained, the second time they will repeat what ever they learned the first time.  You had better be good the first time you introduce your horse to a new obstacle. The first time you introduce a new obstacle to your horse, there cannot be any time pressure.  

I keep my legs close to them so I can keep the horse straight during the approach. The horse cannot step left or right.  if your horse wants to be cautious and drop his head, this is good because you are teaching him to look at things.  The horse’s confidence will grow quickly if you do it this way.  

Let your horse decide when to go through an obstacle.  Don’t make them think they are in trouble if they don’t want to go.  You must be patient and keep your horse thinking with your legs.  “That is all!”  If your horse is allowed to look at or smell the obstacle (especially wood or water) and he trusts you he will likely go through it.  

Make up new obstacles at home that might make your horse stop and look.  Practice getting thru them perfectly and quietly, not quickly!  If your horse stops a lot, this means your horse does not have enough forward motion and should not be on obstacles period. And this is another subject.    

If your horse refuses a new obstacle during a show, don’t make him feel like a total failure and don’t spend the entire 30 seconds trying to make him go thru it if you know it is going to take an extreme amount of pressure with no result. If your horse refuses a new obstacle during race, you must find a way to go back if possible after the show and show it to him again without the extreme pressure or you will have a big problem in the future that will spread to other obstacles.