How to Teach Your Horse to Step Over Obstacles

10/22/2016

The problem everyone has with their horse is being able to walk, trot and canter when they want, where they want, at the exact speed they want and to have their horse relaxed and confident at all times. That’s it – pure, simple and uncomplicated.

Problems are never about establishing your place in some horse herd or being some kind of leader. Problems have nothing to do with moving horses’ feet, breaking hindquarters free, respect or desensitization – whatever these terms are supposed to mean.

Many trainers believe that the first thing to do is confront every horse with things that worry or frighten him. Horses that don’t even know how to walk a circle are forced to walk over tarps, bridges and other obstacles. Countless hours are spent forcing horses to walk over obstacles and up ramps and through streamers. And at the end of all the fighting and confrontation, the poor horses are even more nervous and worried and they still can’t walk a simple circle.

When a horse is nervous and worried, there’s absolutely no point making things more difficult for him by forcing him to walk over obstacles or through streamers. Every horse must be taught one step at a time.

The way to achieve this and to keep your horse relaxed and confident is to always work on things that are easy for you and your horse. Work on teaching him to concentrate on you and to move where and how you ask.

Begin in an arena or an area where there are no distractions. Draw a circle on the ground so you have a definite circle to aim for. You’ll be surprised how difficult it is to walk an exact circle, let alone trot and canter around it.

Start in the walk and concentrate totally on your horse. As a rider, you must always know exactly where you want your horse to move and the exact speed you want him to move. If you don’t know these simple things, how can your horse ever relax and learn to move where and how you want him to?

From the very first ride, I teach every horse to move forward in a confident and relaxed manner. Whether the horse has been ridden for ten years or it’s his first time with a rider on his back, I teach him to move exactly where I ask, at the exact speed I ask. I don’t allow any horse to move when and where he chooses.

When a horse learns to move forward in a relaxed and confident manner, he can be taught to move in larger circle or a smaller circle. He can be taught to move his hindquarters away from the rider’s legs and to move slower or faster in each gait.

Next, the horse can be taught to step over a simple obstacle such as a pole or a small log. It doesn’t matter if it takes two months before a horse is ready to step over simple obstacles. The most important thing is that the horse is confident and relaxed at all times.

When the horse learns to step over a small pole or log, you can ask him to step over a slightly more difficult obstacle, like a rubber mat or a larger log. Remember, always build up in small increments and don’t make confrontations and fights.

Also remember, when you train your horse, there’s always tomorrow. There’s no prize for what you can do today, or how quickly you can walk over a log or a tarp or through streamers. The real prize is to have your horse confident and relaxed and always happy to do as you ask.

Read more on this subject here: www.fearfreehorsetraining.com/blog/how-to-overcome-horse-problems
 

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