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Help.. Training for the Obstacle class

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J&HMinis

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I'm in the process of starting my mare in obstacle. What specific things should I be doing? I already have her side-passing, backing, walking over ground poles, walking over a bright blue tarp and she'll turn on the forehand. We've started ground tying, she'll stand there but she always puts her head down. How do you get them not to do that??
 

Mnmini

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When I practiced ground tying, I always worked on dirt, with as little potential for distraction as possible. You need to be able to have "success" so that you can reward them for their good behavior.

I stand the horse up, and always depart by turning myself around and beginning the walk around facing the horses rear. Didn't want to confuse them that they should follow. If they move a foot, or drop their heads, I return quietly (quick too, but don't want to startle them) and set them up again, or lift the head, repeat the tug on the lead, or voice command "stand" and leave again. If they can only "hold" it for 5 seconds or a couple steps initially, then you know you'd better be ready to return to them at 4 seconds so you have an opportunity to praise them. Gradually extend the time, so that you can make a complete circle around them. Kind of like the Stand Stay in the dog obedience ring, there's no really "good" correction you can do for this exercise except repitition, and the opportunity to reward.
 

minimule

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Do they count off if the horse drops it's head?

Some other things I've seen in obstacle class is walking a board on the ground, the carousel (bucket in the middle with poles extended outward for horse to step over), crossing a bridge, backing the L, pivot on the rear, pivot on the front, weaving at a trot through pylons (cones). Just be creative. Introduce her to all kinds of odd things. We've had large stuffed animals placed in our courses, had to open an umbrella, mailboxes, put a jacket on and take it off. Carry a plastic grocery bag from one place to the next.
 

horsefeather

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Obstacle is one of my favorite classes! The others have given you great suggestions, so I will just add a few. This year we have gone to shows that have a teter-totter and a small pool with water in it. When you start out with the pool, be sure and put a rug (like the straw welcome mats) in the bottom so your horse won't slip. They will be careful once they have learned to walk thru the water, but at first I am always afraid my horse will slip, then the training takes forever, plus I feel I have 'let them down' trust wise. The Teter-Totter is best started from a flat board on the ground, once your horse has that, introduce a very slight teter-totter, then a larger one once he/she has the hang of it. We use 2 - 12" boards nailed together on the back side. At our local shows, I bought a bear cutout and covered it with brown, 'bear like' cloth and you would be surprised how many horses were afraid of it.
Probably one of the hardest things we have had to do (besides the pool and water) was back onto a bridge. The bridge wasn't flat and the horses really didn't want to back 'up' on the bridge. Pretty much anything you can think of that is safe. The object is to earn the horse's trust, so don't do anything dangerous (some think the pool is bad, but a well trained horse won't have a problem with it). There are only 3 things that are not allowed in an obstacle class, stair, tires and jumps.

Have fun. Any questions, just ask.

Pam

Forgot to add that points can be taken off if a horse puts his head down on a ground tie.
 
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minimule

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Forgot to add that points can be taken off if a horse puts his head down on a ground tie.
Never knew that! Thanks!

We were supposed to have a bubble machine at our last show
. Either it didn't work or someone protested it.....Thanks goodness!

I heard once that someone suggested having a llama in a corral in the middle of the course. The only horse that didn't begger was the one that "belonged" to the llama.
 

Jane=P

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Heather,

Give me a call and We can talk and I can tell you what you need to do and I will see how if I can help you at Topsfield show, then I can have fun watching your class...JANE
 

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