How To Teach Your Horse To Cross Obstacles

Training your pony to cross over obstacles is best done in a controlled environment with the least number of possible distractions. Horses are smart animals they can learn pretty swiftly. Therein also lies a particular downside that can make coaching them more than challenging: smart animals have attitudes.

Horses wouldn't be well placed to perform complex and graceful Olympic equestrian manoeuvres if they were not smart. But ask anybody who's trained a pony for dressage and did so successfully and they'd tell you one of the first hurdles they were forced to overcome was either subdue the proud animal's attitude or meet it halfway, the second more desirable than the former.

Your horse wants to get left alone whilst doing what is required of her, although you unfortunately can't just let her do that, unless you have already established thru a cue exactly what it is that you need her to do and how. You can teach her to put her feet where you want them, either while from the saddle or from the ground, but whatever cue you need her to be acquainted with, just do not forget to release her from it quickly after she responds correctly.

With no regard for the obstacle, you need to be decisive on precisely where you need her to cross. Being more definite helps make it simpler for her to understand. The key point to remember is to always keep her eyes on that focus spot. Try applying your "go forward" cue and release her from it as fast as she replies.

If you're concentrating on the "go forward" cue, you will need to counterbalance every other motions she tries while keeping both her eyes on the same spot as before. Move her back to the left if she moves to the right and vice versa. She'll will keep moving her head away from the point of focus—just keep turning it back to the spot where you need her to cross. When you notice her pawing or lowering her head, she's pondering going forward, so apply your cue and reward her responsiveness if she does go forward.

When she reaches the obstacle, allow her interest to be satisfied by checking it. If the obstacle is water, just let her paw it; if it's step ups, let her go a foot at a time; for crossovers, let her get a feel for it. The 1st "step" is always the largest, and if she successfully clears the obstacle then start over from the opposite side. Repeat till she crosses without hesitation to the opposite side and back. It's a good idea to work using an obstacle your horse would think she couldn't cross in an area adequately large to allow for safe manoeuvring.



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