Whether you’ve got angled brush fences or rustling cattle on the brain, every horse and rider would benefit from exposure to these ultimate mini-tests of trust.
1. A Killer bridge: Bridges can be sensory and emotional explosions for horses because of sounds, reverberations, and invisible bridge trolls, obviously. The secret to a good bridge is a) structural integrity and b) stickability. One of the most common shortcomings of homemade bridge obstacles is a slippery top surface, which can not only make you and your horse nervous, but cause a legitimate accident. Adding a layer of acrylic grip coating to your bridge will allow better grip and also protect your magnificent creation from the elements.
2. Something with a little pop: This balloon obstacle is too easy, too cheap, and too much BANG for your buck not to do. A 3×3 piece of plywood, some duct tape, and a bulk bag of balloons is all you need to test your horse’s hearing! The secret is not to blow the balloons up too full- you need them to stay small and close together so your mount can’t wedge between balloons and skip all the fun.
3. The Barrel Machine: This one takes a little more construction, but the payoff is really something. The top barrel allows your horse to push it with his chest, and protrudes enough that they won’t step on the mechanism as they go forward. This is a GREAT confidence builder, and stellar revenge against that barrel racer at your barn always leaving her stuff out.
4. The Spider Jump: Short enough to step over, terrifying enough that your horse will never shy at a plastic bag again once they’ve survived this bad boy. (you can find cheap plastic corrugated tubing like this at your local pool supply store or ranch store.)
5. With a tarp, some soft wonky objects, an industrial fan, and some carefully adjusted corral panels, you can make your very own “car wash” obstacle. Warning: Unless you really put some thought into this, your horse will not come out cleaner on the other side.
6. This very patriotic trail obstacle, because AMERICA.
7. A ridiculously good looking water obstacle: Sturdy footing and multiple entrances and exits that accommodate many levels of horse and rider experience make this by far one of the best water questions I’ve seen on the internets.
8. Stump them with a Stump: This obstacle is a great introduction to the young horse on the concept of straightness, willingness, and trust. They’ll noodle around to the left and right, looking for the easiest way out, but ultimately, they’ll learn to take a path with more resistance if you ask. Hint: to keep your stump from tipping over when they stand, screw the bottom to a minimum 3×3 of plywood with 4-5 screws.
(HorseNation Cuteness Alert: The giant, gangly, sweet yearling mustang seen below is available for adoption this weekend! Click here for more info.)
9. Waterlogged: Another ingenious invention using stuff you probably already having laying around, this will test your horse’s space bubble, water bubble, and and jump bubble all at once! The water effect entering the chute was created using the misters you see at outdoor patios screwed on to your standard hose.
Last but certainly not least:
10. Pool Noodles: So cheap, colorful, and versatile, you’d be crazy not to keep a dozen of these handy at all times.
Many thanks to all the great trail obstacle sites for sharing their images, and to Rusty Sessions of Sidewinder Media for use of their work, as well!
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