What You Need:
Anything your heart desires!
I love obstacle courses. They are so versatile and help keep riders engaged. I usually do obstacle courses every 8-10 weeks with my riders, if not more often. You can adjust a course to be whatever you want, which is why I like them so much. My center doesn’t have as many toys and goodies as some other centers and we are still able to put together a great obstacle course.
In the warmer months, you can also do this outside and use a sensory trail, or create a makeshift sensory trail by adding some obstacles.
In the most simple courses, I will have riders turn, circle, and whoa to activate all their riding skills. I can easily add a trot, a basketball hoop, a stuffed animal to hunt for, or poles to walk over. I like to think of different patterns and sometimes use the same obstacles in a different pattern for several weeks in a row.
Obstacle courses can be more fun for riders than patterns because there is a tangible goal (i.e. over the pole). It also encourages them to use all the riding skills they’ve learned like steering, stopping, completing a goal, stopping at a certain point, etc.
Here’s an example of a very basic obstacle course I use:
In this course, I have my students weave the cones, turn into the square and whoa, then circle the barrel. The nice thing about this pattern is it can be done in both directions and can be made more difficult as your riders progress. Poles can be added on the other side to keep the pattern going, the box can be raised so the horse has to step up and into the box, or a trot can be added after the barrel.
I hope this helps feed your creativity! I will keep posting ideas and patterns for other obstacle courses I do if you find it helpful.