Building a trail - ideas for obstacles? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Orange County, California
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Building a trail - ideas for obstacles?

I am in a very urbanized area of southern California. Fortunately, there is a nearby park with over 18 miles of trails and encompassing over 3,000 acres. Because of the nature of southern California development, a large number of horse owners are located around this park.

My local ETI has an opportunity to work with this park on the improvement of their equestrian facilities. They have good trails that provide connectivity into other areas, a very large arena, several round rings and equestrian camping facilities (with stalls).

I've been thinking about developing a "trail trial" trail in the park. The idea would be to have several "stations" along the new trail where riders could work on specific skills. If you have ever seen PAR courses for runners, I'm thinking of something along this line. For example, I could see placing the following obstacles:
gate (for mounted opening/closing)
"z-pattern" trot poles for backing practice
logs for step overs
maybe something for a rope drag
a "horse wash" (arch with flagging, fabric hanging down you walk horse through)
maybe a teeter totter
a "step up" pedestal

So, I'm looking for other ideas. What type of obstacles do you think would be useful (and practical to build).

Equestrians are not the only folks who use the park, so it has to be somewhat vandalism proof.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Camden, OH
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At the stable my boy is in, we have these things in the indoor arena. We have a wooden bridge thing, which is more like a pedestal, a horse wash with hanging water noodles, a bright, highly reflective silver tarp to lay out on the ground for the horse to walk over, drag, or whatever, a few trot poles, some bright orange traffic cones for making things slightly more scary or for setting up a pattern to be walked on the floor, and there is also a large pad that I think was a very large dog bed, at one time, long enough for a horse to stand on it with all four feet, so maybe 5' by 4' or so. The spongy surface of it makes for an interesting obstacle.

Also, setting up ditches with areas that would have to be jumped and areas that could be crossed by walking through would be good, and something like a small pond or a creek, as well.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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How about simulating a downed tree or low hanging branch that you would have to duck close to the horses next to get under. Can you say LIMBO!!!!

I run across stuff like that very often when riding.

How about a mailbox to side pass over to or if it is hilly, use railroad ties and make a small wall to jump up on or drop off of.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 01:40 PM
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Brazoria County, TX
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I think a drop off would be a good idea. Maybe have a beginers, intermediate, and advanced. With them ranging from 1ft to maybe a 3 ft drop.

Creeks, water crossings are allways good. Maybe an area to drag a log.

A log to jump or step over, and area where they have to dismount and remount useing a stump, a tunnel to ride through.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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My BCHW chapter recently created something similar at a local popular riding area.

In conjunction with the land manger (King County, WA) we designed and built a "trails training area" with the following obstacles:
  • The Back Through - Narrow windy trails make you nervous? Increase your confidence by practicing trail backing maneuvers here.
  • Gate - Get off the animal to open and close a gate? Not a chance after practicing at this station.
  • Walk Overs – Get ready for spring’s inevitable downed branches and logs with this natural cavaletti course.
  • Single Step Over - Ever wondered how best to navigate a log suspended over the trail? This is a great place for your horse to practice stepping over as opposed to jumping over obstacles.
  • Serpentine Poles - Even if you’re not on the pole bending circuit the ability to make tight turns confidently is a valuable skill on some of the switchbacks we encounter while in the high country of Washington’s Cascades.
  • Mail Box on Pole – We’ve all been in situations where a seemingly harmless item is terrifying to our horse. This a good place to start the desensitization process.
All obstacles were created to build confidence in riders and horses in facing many of the same type of situations that may run across while further afield.

You can read more about the Danville- Georgetown Trail system here.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-26-2011, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
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What we do is put a big bunch of tires and created a small low jump which is easy to build and works great, the tires we got at a junk yard
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-26-2011, 11:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Wisconsin
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Maybe some sort of colored obstacle? It would be nice to have a horse experienced with moving over something that is unusually colored. Perhaps colored rock placed in the ground even with the rest of the ground.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-27-2011, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Northern Utah
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If you build obsticles that appear like those you will find in the open country, They would be pretty vandal proof.

Steep down hills or up hill climbs

Wooden Bridges like this one over a boggy area

Put up a section of split rail fence. You can practice side passing over and picking up a hat or coat. We call this fence the Knee Knocker, because of how close it comes to our knees as we trott along side of it.

Water crossing

Tight spots. Here we are between two rock walls. But it could be a wall and a fence just something that ask the horse to trust and pass thru

A gate is a good idea. But I really don't see many gates out in the open range. If I do see a gate, they are usually barb wire and not something that you can open from horse back.

We ask our horses to climb up on objects Something like this would be hard to vandalize. We also make the horse go off the high side so they learn to climb up and off ledges

And we ask them to cross natural stone ledges

And of course Rocky trails are a given

Stone Steps

Crossing blow down or dead fall timber

Tunnels or places they have to enter.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-27-2011, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Upstate NY
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Great pics. Love the country you are riding in.

Life is like a bronc ride. You gotta hang on, ride it out, and Let er buck!!!!!
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-21-2011, 07:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
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Arrow ideas for trail obstacle practice

You can go to my website to see the different obstacles that are easy to build out of items you may have access too fairly easily and inexpensively. Go to the obstacle page and the gallery.

I love the natural riding in these pictures. I am envious that you have that available to you. Florida is flat flat flat for the most part.

I've been to Eminence, MO and they have some ledges there to climb and descend. Loved it. Ride right on the side of cliffs. Better have a solid critter to navigate those areas.
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