Thursday, January 29, 2015

Missy and I Do Trail Obstacles

Well, some of the things we did you're unlikely to encounter on the trail . . .

I had a busy horse day - Pie and Red got rides in the afternoon, and then Missy and I rode during the Thursday evening horse get together that happens most weeks at the barn.  Tonight there were trail obstacles - poles, tarps, a couple of platforms and a pool noodle obstacle - two jump standards with pool noodles attached all the way up at right angles - think two giant combs facing one another.

And we also tried out a Western saddle - Pie's fit her pretty well with some minor shimming.  I didn't know if she'd ever worn a back cinch, so I left that pretty loose.  She did well with the saddle and it put me in a good position, although it tended to want to slip back - I may need to use a pad with a bit more substance - perhaps one of my Diamond wool pads.

Missy did great with all the obstacles - we started in hand.  The tarp she could have cared less about, although she inspected it carefully before crossing.  She crossed the big platform pretty easily, but got slightly worried about it once it had dirt patches on the top - some snorting but that was all.  Once the dirt was cleared off, she was reassured.  We did some circling around it in hand until she relaxed.

The pool noodle obstacle was apparently a novelty to her, although she approached it readily and went through it with some coaxing - the noodles brushing her hindquarters caused her to scoot a little bit, but after we did it a few times, she was much more comfortable.

We moved on to ridden work.  She looked very nice in her new headstall and the Western saddle - sorry, no pictures (yet).  Passing by the platform - it was close to the corner with not much room between - was a bit alarming, so I got off and we hand walked around it a few times.  I got back on and she was fine with it.  I like how quickly she figures out that things don't have to be alarming.

She didn't want to pass through the pool noodle obstacle under saddle - I kept her directed towards it but she didn't want to do more than put her head and neck through.  So I dismounted and spread the two sides apart, leaving a larger gap between where she would fit without running into the noodles - we walked through several times in hand and she was fine.  So I got back on, and she walked through easily.  I had someone on the ground bring the sides a little closer together - there was still a gap - and she was fine walking through.  Then we walked through the gap to one side so the noodles brushed her - no problem at all.  We did that a few more times, and she was great.

The method of making a difficult problem a bit easier and then easing back up on a higher difficulty level works really well.  Missy also showed again how well she learns - she quickly understands what is wanted and figures out that things that might be alarming are in fact OK.

We also did some trot work - I asked her to be forward and soft at the same time and she was mostly able to do it for me.  All the dismounting/mounting gave us a lot of practice on our standing still for mounting, and her concentration (despite a number of horses in the ring) and softness were pretty consistent at walk and trot.

I was delighted with her and told her so many times throughout our session - good Miss mare - I think we both had a good time!


  1. It's been years (at least 5 or 6) but we did some trail classes at fun shows...I vaguely remember her being suspicious of the under with some streamer hanging, but I also distinctly remember getting slightly creative and having her halt on a tarp instead of just trotting over it like everyone else...sounds like you guys had a lot of fun! How nice that you have a group of riders like that:)

  2. Happy she's doing so well! Love the trail challenges, so much fun for the horse and rider!

  3. What a fun night! Would love to see photos of Missy.

  4. I think it's so good for horses to be challenged with obstacles every now and then -- it really gets them thinking!

  5. Aahh Missy sounds like such a nice kinda horse - the thinkers!

  6. What a lovely girl and what fun to be able to use the trail obstacles as an alternative to "plain old training."

  7. She is a horse that you can have fun with right out of the box.


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