Obstacle number 1: "the horse to FOLLOW the handler through the weave at trot". Much of horse agility in the past has been about maintaining a leading position with the horse beside the handler and Fat Pony has grown very comfortable with this arrangement. So much so, that we have struggled with Trec competitions, where the pony is supposed to lead through certain obstacles behind the handler. Well, not so much struggled, but lack of understanding from Fat Pony as to the task and staying behind doesn't compute with his own preference to be beside (by contrast, Dominant Mare, ironically, much prefers to follow behind and will eventually have to learn to be confident leading beside! Ponies, eh! :-)
Obstacle number 3: "Circle Target. Using a circle of diameter not more than 12 inches (30cm) placed on the ground—a plastic bucket lid will do or a circle of coloured cardboard. Halt your horse from trot with his left hind foot on the circle. Count to three and walk on". This is a completely new obstacle for us. At the starter level this obstacle would be halt from walk with the left front foot on the target and you would build it up from there. So we have to tackle this one at Advanced 1* level, from scratch. This will probably need the most training for this month! 30cm is not a very big target at all!
Obstacle numbers 4 and 5: the solid box is back. At Advanced 1* level I have to send Fat Pony into the box and then reverse him out again whilst keeping my own feet still. The last time we attempted this wasn't too bad, I predict that the biggest training challenge will be that Fat Pony needs a little time to get used to and be confident with, the enclosed nature of the box. This will definitely be one where it will be wise to lock the other ponies well out of the way to prevent them trying to interfere and causing very submissive Fat Pony to feel potentially "trapped". The biggest challenge with this obstacle won't be so much a training challenge, as the challenge of building the box itself. The dimensions are very specific and the box must have solid sides, any gaps or chinks of light will loose points! The last time I used crash barriers, but their height didn't meet specification (too low). It's actually quite challenging creating solid sides 1m high when you don't have an arena fence (no arena, lol!), your paddocks are all electric tape (not strong enough to support a tarp or sheet) and you don't even own jump wings! Time to get the DIY head on!
Obstacle number 6: the horse to canter through the scary corner. I'm still working on teaching Fat Pony his canter transitions in general, his understanding of the task and putting it "on cue" is something we still have to work on and also his confidence needs alot of work, at the moment he is being over sensitive, leading to resistance and rushing and then he either stops listening and/ or simply dis-engages and leaves the conversation. For the sake of where we are in our training and my relationship with Fat Pony, I might decide to do this one in trot and simply sacrifice the 2 points deduction for not being in canter.
Obstacle number 7: is the horse to back through the pole corridor, but without passing through forwards first. We can do that, but it's been a while and never through the poles, always a more upright obstacle (curtain, narrow gap). Fat Pony will have a problem seeing the poles behind him, so that will need some practice and it will be sensible to go back a few steps to remind Fat Pony of what the obstacle is and give him confidence.
Obstacle number 8: is for the horse to trot over the tarp, but again BEHIND the handler!
Obstacles 9 and 10: are to do with picking up, carrying and putting down a bucket - without the horse showing any interest in the bucket. Could be quite ok, but Fat Pony is very food oriented... I'll have to test that one early to see whether it will need work or not.
Lots of challenges! And lots of fun to work on :-)