The Contact Mat has made a re-appearance and, in fact, I didn't enter February's competition for lack of a suitable mat! The contact mat should be 1m x 1m and may be of any non-slip material, carpet is suggested. However, it seems to me that unless you just happen to know somebody who is re-decorating their house, cheap carpet is not so easy to come by. And it has to be cheap, as carpet left outside will not last that long! Even if the carpet is dry stored in between practice sessions (which is a pain in itself), there are bound to be days when it's raining or the ground is wet, even in the summer, but you still want to play with agility. In the end, I decided to use a piece of rubber stable matting from Fat Pony's diet pen. The matting was acquired 2nd hand and had been cut by the previous owner to fit their stables, all slightly different sizes, but as luck would have it one of the pieces was near enough 1m x 1m. Excellent from the point of view of being durable and non slip, even in the wet :-D Slightly on the heavy side to get out and put away in between courses, although at least I can be sure that it won't blow away! :-) And, come the autumn and winter, it will be needed back in the diet pen. But, for now, working very well :-)
The other tricky obstacle is this month's narrow gap, which needs to have completely solid sides, at least 1m high. In the past, I have lost points and I have seen other people lose points for the sides not being high enough and/ or the sides not being 100% without any small gaps. Previously, I used plastic road barriers, but there was still a small amount of daylight showing through where I had to push 2 together to make the length. That could be fixed by hanging a tarpaulin or a sheet over the gap, but they are also only about 80cm high. For this month, I have solved the problem by using a tall and very leafy hedge as one side of the gap and then stacking the road barriers 2 high on top of each other and using duct tape to block any small remaining gaps. But I am slightly concerned that this is not the most stable construction and if the ponies spook into it or (more likely) decide to start "playing" with it, nudging it with their noses or rubbing on it, that it will all come tumbling down. So I'm still looking for a better solution when this obstacle comes up the next time!