Obstacle Training

Yesterday I worked on Sugar's obstacle training. I wanted to set up a couple of jumps but I wasn't able to find the ones I wanted so I started with sending her up and down little hills. She was very good at it, except for rushing down the hills a bit too much at the starting. Rushing down a hill is actually a lazy way for a horse to climb down a hill. Taking time, picking their way and walking is using their thinking side of their brain. It's good to have them pick their feet safely down a hill rather than rushing. 

When I first brought out Sugar I could tell she was a little reactive and energetic since the last time I took her out. I started with the C Pattern and backing all the way to the obstacles. The C Pattern has her constantly having her think on the 'thinking side of her brain'. Sending her in a arc, yielding her hindquarters, giving me two eyes and sending her back in the other direction. I could do this and move from place to place. 

Backing is a huge lesson for respect. Clinton says if he had to pick only one ground work exercise it would be backing. I did a lot of backing with Sugar. When we moved to a different obstacle I would either do the C pattern or back her there. I was able to back her at a pretty good rhythm and cadence in her feet at a distance. I also checked on steering her backwards. I could tell I need to go back and work a little more on yielding her hindquarters (especially at a distance). 

Working on the little hills I have her collect her feet and I'd say she did very well! I would let her stop and rest on the highest hill whenever she stopped, to let her rest where she feels the most uncomfortable. 

After working a lot on the hills I made my way with her to a gate and a bunch of pens where the cowboys worked the cattle. She always seemed to be afraid of something over there so I had her do a lot of sending, desensitizing, resting and letting her know there's nothing to be afraid of. She was a bit jumpy and started rushing but quickly calmed down and knew from experience that if she stopped where she felt most uncomfortable, I'd let her rest and I did while I 'flogged her with kindness'. After a bunch of sending she didn't rush and even got too lazy when I asked her to go. Near there is a archery range so I did the same there. She wasn't too sure about some of the colorful targets but very soon didn't care so we moved on. 

I eventually went to the actual obstacle course. There were jumps there but mostly logs. There's what's called a cowboy curtain, teeter totter, circle logs, log jumps, barrels, mail box, gate, and some boards.  

The teeter totter and the cowboy curtain are probably the most scariest obstacles for the horses. Especially the teeter totter because the ground moves under their feet and that really frightens a horse. Sugar is really good at going over this so we did the circle logs because she isn't very good at picking up her feet. She's in general kinda clumsy. She did very good going around the circle logs. I sent her back and forth in both directions after a few full circles ending with good cadence, rhythm and she pick up her feet with no argument, fear or laziness.