Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cowboy Obstacle Challenge

Stella goes on an adventure!

Over the weekend Stella competed in her first Cowboy Obstacle Challenge.


I thought it would be a fun and different thing to do with her, she's done some obstacles before when we were at Ed Chambers barn, and I think the exposure would help her both learn to trust me, and me learn what areas she needs work on.

First obstacle wasn't even an obstacle.  I've always wondered how you go about teaching horses to highline.  Do they understand what they are tied to?  Do they need work desensitizing?

Apparently not, especially when they are the type of horse that really likes to hang out and do nothing.

The first obstacle was "flexing"  Can you flex your horse's head to the left and right without them moving their feet?  It's a pretty basic NH move that you might be rolling your eyes at, but can your horse do it?  Stella said UNUHHH??

Second obstacle was a giant yellow ball.  You had to pick it up and touch your horse with it.  Stella didn't care about this under saddle or in hand.  Points!!

Third Obstacle was a very narrow bridge with a railing made of balloons.  Stella was a little spooked by this but willing to go over when prompted in hand.  Under saddle she got a couple feet on and then backed off sideways.

Next up was a giant filled tractor tire.  You had to have your horse climb up on the tire and off again.  This was a no go in hand and I didn't try it under saddle.  She simply didn't understand what she was being asked to do.

After that we moved onto shower curtain streamers.  She's worked this at Ed's place and did not enjoy it at all.  I was actually surprised I got her to go through it in hand, although she did rush through it.  I didn't even try under saddle.  I'm not sure if it's her unwillingness to walk through something she views as solid, or a fear based response to things being over her head.

Then we had a stream crossing, no problems here.

Moving on we had a white feed sack that we had to drag behind us.  She didn't even look at it in hand, but I couldn't even get close enough under saddle to grab the rope.  She was for sure eyeballing the sack, and she didn't even look at it in hand.  I think with more time I could have gotten her closer to it, but we really only had three tries and this was more of a 10 minute thing.

A rain slicker proved to be no big deal, I've worked on taking jackets on and off on horseback at home.  You don't want to discover your horse doesn't like this!

Last up we had a bunch of plastic jugs tied together that made a big rattling noise.  Stella looked at it hard in hand but stood firm.  Under saddle I had a hard time getting near it and she spooked off when I picked it up so I dropped it.  I think that her inability to move sideways didn't help here.  She wasn't afraid of the barrel, she just didn't want to get close to it.

You can see pictures of me in all the in hand obstacles at this Facebook link, I'll post under saddle photos when they come up.  Let me know what your favorites are!


What did I learn?

First, drink more water.  I got a heat related migraine and bailed on the end of the day, then did some barfing when I got home.

Stella is much more obedient in hand than under saddle.  She's not entirely observant of what you want and where you are in relation to where she is (she walks on you when she isn't paying attention) but she is more likely to do the same thing in hand and not under saddle.  This is pretty much par for the course with her.  Things under saddle are often optional.  She needs more work on her ground manners and MUCH more work respecting the aid to go forward under saddle.

I think that doing things like obstacles will improve her rideability so I have some things planned for her at home!  Poor Stella!!


  1. i actually really want to try something like this with my mare - it's always so interesting to find out what they don't care about vs. what freaks them out haha. bummer about the heat migraine tho :(

  2. That looks like so much fun! I've always wanted to try the tire with Bobby, but I don't think he'd be patient enough to stand still on it instead of just leaping right back off like a bank.

  3. good for you! you are definitely brave!

  4. I have always wanted to try an obstacle challenge but chicken out every time, good job!



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