Building Yourself a "Horse Course"
...or One Person's Garbage is Another Person's Treasure
Typically one can find all sorts of "junk" materials around a barn or stable. Much of this stuff is simply no more than junk... but many things can be adapted for use as safe obstacles for riders and horses to encounter.
A few considerations before you start dreaming up your own obstacle course include:
In our course we wanted the horses to experience different types of terrain, going up and down various short slopes, stepping down into a narrow depression, stepping over logs, traversing across a long wooden bridge, over concrete pipes, etc. We wanted them to think about where they placed their feet and we also wanted to do a little jumping.
Our planning took into consideration what we had available to us, what we could scrounge up at little or no cost, and what we could build ourselves. We then logically laid out the various elements of our horse course within a corner of the stable.
A Sample Layout Sketch
We gathered up old telephone poles, a couple of beams from an old dismantled railroad trestle, some extra fence posts, old tires from nearby tire shops, and some leftover lumber from our barn construction; using what fit into the plan and discarding what we didn't need.
We tested our layout and made adjustments as some objects seemed to fall into the departure paths from other obstacles when taken at speed. We also discovered that some of the younger horses, when worked at speed, wanted to duck out the opening onto the loping track and have a dash so we placed an old gate across the opening to help keep their minds on their work. (Eventually we would want to work them to be able to work at any pace, with the gate open, without them pressing us to go for a run.)
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