Building Yourself a "Horse Course"
Part five: Fun with Tires
If you do any outdoor riding you need to be able to place your horse's feet where you want them to be, comfortably and without hesitation. Some dangerous obstacle on the trail, such as barbed wire or a squirrel hole, might be hidden by grass and not be visible to your horse. He needs to both recognize and trust your aid as well as get used to different "feelings" along his lower legs without geting upset about it.
We like using tires as obstacles. Most horses don't naturally want to put their feet inside them, yet if they do scramble when making an attempt, a tire is not likely to hurt your mount. We like to use narrow truck or tractor tires to start out with as the wide openings make better targets for early attempts.
We will stack other tires alongside the target to channel the horse's focus and make him less likely to duck away from the obstacle. Careful application of aids can help the horse become less likely to want to jump the tires, however be prepared... some horses like to jump and probably will at first!
We also have some flat rounds made from sidewalls (which we cut from tires we were making into feeders). By lining these up, the horse can get used to the look of the "rings" and build confidence before attempting the "real tire".
We also use an old auto tire, tied to a worn out lariat, as a drag obstacle. Most horses will get upset dragging the tire at first and this event needs to be set up carefully for the first time. However when out in the bush, one never knows when it might be necessary to use the horse to help move a downed tree from the trail, etc. Even if the horse is never used for such a utilitarian purpose, he should be comfortable with dragging objects following him or rustling nearby.
Note: When working around any obstacles, you need to pay careful attention to your situation, your horse, any distractions and what others nearby are doing (what impact they may have on you and what impact you may have on them). Some horses may react unpredictably and you need to be prepared to guide them through any situation... or get competent assistance if you are not sure how to do so!
(More obstacle examples are being prepared.)
Also, if you have any obstacle ideas you'd like to share or see,
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