Here are some ideas for spicing up your obstacle courses!
When deciding which shape to use for your obstacle course, keep in mind:
- The rider’s balance (shallow or tight turns)
- The rider’s processing time (able to handle long or short straightaways, aka turns coming up quickly or not)
- Your ability to see everyone in the arena at the same time (aka how close together the course allows the riders to stay)
The Figure 0
Okay this is not so spicy, it is the normal shape for obstacle courses: around the arena…and around and around and around.
Pros: This shape is nice because it has shallower turns and makes it easy to keep your riders together so you can see them all.
Cons: It involves a lot of turns in the same direction which can be taxing on some riders, so make sure to switch directions after a few rounds to work both sides of the rider and horse’s bodies.
The Figure X
Switch it up and use the diagonals!
Pros: This shape provides longer straightaways for more obstacles and works both sides of the rider and horse’s bodies more evenly because it involves two right and two left turns.
Cons: However, the turns are sharper which requires more balance, and you may have a harder time being able to see everyone through the pattern.
The Figure 8
The most challenging
Pros: This shape is a great challenge because it has more turns (4 in each direction) and shorter straightaways (requiring faster balance, decision making, and coordination of aids).
Cons: However, you may have a harder time being able to see everyone through the pattern.
“The Snake.” Okay now we are just getting crazy.
Pros: This shape is the biggest challenge because it has more turns (4 in each direction) and the shortest straightaways (requiring faster balance, decision making, and coordination of aids). Teaching the serpentine shape before using this course may help.
Cons: Again, you may have a harder time being able to see everyone through the pattern. And you need to come up with a way to make it back to the beginning – either riding the course back the other direction, or cutting across the arena somehow, or making there be enough turns so the rider can just walk down the long wall back to the beginning.
What shapes do you use to spice up your obstacle courses?
Have a great weekend!
Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgment!