How to Start Training the Archway/Hoop/Curtain – Obstacle Training for Despooking and Body Awareness

How to Start Training the Archway/Hoop/Curtain – Obstacle Training for Despooking and Body Awareness

Obstacles provide great challenges to improve your horse’s confidence and body awareness and the archway, hoop or curtain is a common obstacle in horse agility, trail classes and TREC. This video shows you how to introduce it to your horse in a way which is gentle, fun and builds your relationship. Spooky horses are scared horses and this is an effective way to build their confidence and trust in you (without pushing, fighting or overwhelming your horse).

Rowan and Khalil are both rescue horses of mine and are the most spooky and anxious horses in my herd – this makes them perfect for showing despooking training as they were both very worried about this new obstacle to begin with.

As always, I aim to keep the horses well under threshold during training, so that we both enjoy our time together and it strengthens our communication and relationship. This means that it can be harder to see the anxiety because I don’t push them to the point of spooking, running away or rearing etc, but look for the more subtle signs of tension such as hesitation, muscle tension in their ears or mouth or rushing. By using clicker training to teach your horse to stay connected with you and work through anxieties in this way, you’ll increase their confidence in their own abilities to deal with any future scary situations. It’s incredibly empowering as horses learn that they CAN overcome challenges positively. If your horse wants to keep working on the obstacle, even if it is a bit scary, you’re doing it right! 🙂
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This video is an excerpt from training tutorials in the CT Club showing all the stages from here right up to working through the full curtain and even jumping through hoops. If you like this approach and want to learn more, please check out the CT Club, the online resource for positively training your horse.

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