I saw an in hand exercise that my friend was doing last week, and then I saw another friend successfully riding it on his Belgian Draft. Challenge accepted!
This exercise comes from the obstacle section in TREC competitions. Poles are arranged to form a maze in which the horse has to negotiate around the turns carefully. In TREC competitions penalties are awarded if the horse touches a pole or steps over them. Ideally, the horse should keep moving at all times.
I thought this would be a bit of fun for Phoenix and I.
I began with only two S-bends, with a generous width between the poles. This meant there was more space for Phoenix to turn. I under estimated her though, and she walked through the labyrinth easily.
Then I narrowed the gaps between the poles and added a third S-bend. Now it tested her! The first time. She stepped over a pole as she turned the corner. The second time she just nudged a pole, but was starting to understand the exercise.
Our third and final attempt was near on perfect. She paused before one turn, but I think that was her working out where to put her feet.
The exercise is trickier than it looks. It’s a good test of suppleness and balance. As well as checking how careful the horse is. You don’t want the horse to rush the exercise or to disrespect the poles.
Have a go at it under saddle or in hand. And if you have children learning to ride it can be a fun way to teach steering.