So I built version 1 of the noodle walk with just 2 noodles. In some instances, I might then have started with the frames further apart, leaving a gap in between the noodles. However, in this case, I decided to begin with the noodles overlapping by 3cm, as per the competition instructions. The ponies appeared whilst I was still building (they have a 6th sense about such things ;-) and the New Girl (aka Mrs. Confident Dominant) walked up to it and walked straight through. Satisfied that it was New Girl 1 Noodles 0 she then moseyed on off to go and have a drink and a snooze.
Fat Pony, on the other hand, was more sceptical. That may seem strange, since Fat Pony is now at Advanced Level in Horse Agility and is also very playful, however Fat Pony came to me with a history of fear issues and restraint and things around his legs are a particular cause for concern for him. I decided to try to work it out at Liberty, giving Fat Pony complete freedom of choice and engaging his curiosity and play. I used "draw" rather than "drive" i.e. I put no pressure on Fat Pony to come through the obstacle, rather I positioned myself on the other side and I invited him to come through. Fat Pony wants to do things and he also knows that there will be a reward waiting, however I must stress that I never "bribe". I never hold treats under their noses, trying to get them to follow. The treat is retrieved and offered only AFTER completion of the desired action. But I digress. I invited Fat Pony and then I waited. I was ready to give him all the time that he needed to investigate and to puzzle it out for himself. After some sniffing, Fat Pony decided to try going through. He didn't like the feel of it on his legs and he shot off to a safe distance, but turned to face the obstacle and he was watching intently. So I decided to demonstrate that the new "thing" was safe. I walked slowly backwards and forwards through the obstacle myself (feeling like a bit of a twit, thankfully no-one else around to see, lol ;-) and eventually Fat Pony came over to try again. This time he was fine with his front legs and then did a funny bunny hop with his back legs to clear the noodles at the back. The 3rd time, he didn't hop with his back legs, the noodles brushed them and he shot off again. Again, I did my "look this is safe" demo. Again, Fat Pony came back to try again for himself. This time, he went through, a bit rushed but he didn't run off, he stopped, turned and looked for his reward. I then took him through the noodles another half a dozen times and by now he was much more calm and relaxed about them. A good place to end the session and leave him to process the experience over night :-)