The Boy Scouts Build Us a Horse Obstacle Course

Our rescue has lots of new toys to play with!! We’re feeling pretty lucky right now. A scout from Boy Scout Troop #1, of Duncanville, Texas, decided that he wanted to do his Eagle Scout project at our horse rescue.

This past weekend, he and part of his scout troop labored in the hot sun (it was mid-90s this weekend!) to build us a horse playground. The obstacle course that they built will be great for working on ground work and desensitization exercises with our horses, as well as teaching the riding horses to be fearless of obstacles and strange things they might encounter on a trail. We want our horses to learn to be brave and confident in new and potentially scary situations. Obstacles such as these help the horse and human learn to communicate with each other and trust each other.

So what did the boy scouts build us? Here’s a picture of each of the six obstacles that the scouts built.

1. A Wooden Bridge
The bridge helps teach horses to step up onto something and gets the horses use to walking on surfaces that make different sounds. This bridge is neat because it is actually two pieces–which will make it easier to move.

2. A “Car Wash” obstacle with a curtain
The horses think the Car Wash obstacle is pretty scary, mostly because of the amount of wind we get at the rescue. This obstacle is right near our small round pen, which is great because the horses get to walk by it and look at it when they are going to the round pen or when they are in the round pen. Takoda is already figuring out that the Car Wash really isn’t that scary!

3. A set of four cavalettis
The cavalettis help teach the horses to watch where their feet are and to pick up their feet, rather than dragging their toes when they walk. Also, we can use them to make a channel or an “L” shape so that the horses can practice going backwards or sideways. They are “adjustable” — depending on which way they are turned, each can be set at a low, medium, or high height.

4. The scary noodle tree obstacle
This obstacle helps the horses get use to things touching their side–on a trail ride, this could be similar to brushing up against a tree or branch. The way this obstacle was made is pretty neat–all of the noodles come off. That way, we can change around the number of noodles and their position. So, at the beginning of training, we could start out with just one or two noodles and then gradually increase the number.

5. A simple gate obstacle
Whether during ground work or while riding, it takes a lot of coordination and communication for a rider and horse to be able to open a gate, go through, and then close the gate behind. This simple obstacle simulates a gate so that horse and rider can practice the correct movements and cues.

6. A set of 6 poles
These poles can be used to practice weaving, figure-eights or any other patterns, whether teaching a young horse to lead or working on steering and other exercises from the saddle.

We are VERY happy about our new horse obstacle course. I’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the summer as we teach the horses to use each of the obstacles in our new horse playground. Also, if anyone has any ideas for creative ways to use any of the obstacles during training, let me know! If you’d like to see more photos, including photos of the boy scouts building each obstacle, check out this album on the rescue’s page on facebook.

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  • Karleen

    I am SO JEALOUS!! I love the noodle obstacle. Have fun and do keep us posted on how the horse use the course! Pictures! Lots of pictures, please!!!

    • Addy

      I LIKE NOODLES TEHE

  • C U

    How exciting!  That is too awesome.  :D  I'm glad kids are still into boy/girl scouts and want to help out.  I love that he chose the rescue.  Those obstacles are all really awesome and I'm saving the pictures so maybe we can build some of them.  I love it.

    Also regarding your comment on Chrome's ground driving video, thanks!  I was very happy with how he did.  I had actually considered the cones, but that session was very spur of the moment lol.  I might still do that though if he doesn't figure out going straight soon.  I'm glad you like the cavesson too.  I love making things so I'm happy it turned out so well.  I just hope it's sturdy enough to last.  It's not very reinforced since it was originally a noseband and not a halter.  We shall see how it goes.  :)

    Oh and thank you so much for helping me figure out the comments problem.

  • Radal16

    Those look like so much fun! I can't wait to watch some video of them in use.

  • Gcpropertymanagement

    The car wash curtain is great. I wish I had these to practice on years ago.

  • Gcpropertymanagement

    Use your pole for basic drill team work. That is such a good way to learn to work and be safer on trail with younger horses or those who are apt to misbehave. Any two or four riders and horses can learn to work together.

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Tina

    Hello! I just found your post after searching for carwash ideas. I LOVE your carwash and am thinking of building one similar (might do the noodle thing too!). I just wanted to ask if you like it just the way it is, or if there's anything you would change, now that you've used it some. I'd appreciate it if you could email me at playswithpercherons@hotmail.com with any info. Thanks so much!
    Tina

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Hi Tina,

      I just sent you an e-mail. Let me know if you have more questions!

      ~Mary

  • Geneo

    set the noodle on the side that way it will be like walking in tall grass 

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Thanks for the suggestion!

      Having horses step over noddles definitely sounds like a fun idea. 

      cheers,

      Mary

  • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    Having horses step over noddles definitely sounds like a fun idea. 

    cheers,

    Mary

  • Addy14mcgill

    tehe

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  • Kyley at Painting Pony

    Hi Mary,
    I'm thinking about building a “car wash” for our horses at the farm out of PVC pipe. I'm still thinking of how I want to do it & the layout, but I was just wondering how tall yours is? I wasn't sure how high to make it so that most riders could ride under it if they wanted to. And I was thinking PVC because then we can more it easily & take it in for the winter. I was thinking weighting it by attaching it to cement filled paint cans might work – since PVC might be kind of light. Any suggestions you have would help! thanks!

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Hi Kyley,

      I really have no idea how tall it is!

      Just from looking at the picture and “guesstimating” I would guess that it is about 10 feet tall. The paint saddlebred in the picture was about 14.3 hh.

      In this video, you can see Blossom going under it with me riding. (She is about 14.1 and I'm about 5' 5'') http://stalecheerios.com/blog/
      This size might be a little tall. But, it really depends on the size of horses that you'll be using it with. And, probably better to err on the side of being a bit too tall.

      The most inconvenient thing about this carwash is that it is very heavy and hard to move. PVC sounds like a better idea. But, just really make sure that it is sturdy enough to not fall down in the wind or if a horse was to bump against it.

      We need a better “curtain.” The one in the pictures is too flimsy and always blows to the side. Although, this was great for some of our young horses, because the curtain would never touch them. I always thought that
      it would be fun to hang pool noodles from a carwash!

      cheers,

      Mary

  • Kelly

    the noodle obstacle is absolutely pure awesomeness!! I know what I am building next ; )

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Hi Kelly,

      If you build one, I would love to see photos. :)

      Did you see this blog post as well? http://stalecheerios.com/blog/horse-training/chardonnay-meets-noodles/
      It shows the noodle obstacle with only a few noodles on it, so that you can see the pegs they attach to.

      I really like that we built it like this. For more spooky / unconfident horses, it really helps to be able to start with just one or two noodles.
      cheers,

      Mary

  • Pete

    how do you build the pool noddle obstacle? My main question is what are the pool noddles attached to? Can’t tell by the pic.

    • http://stalecheerios.com/blog Mary Hunter

      Hi Pete,

      There are wooden pegs that the pool noodles stick on to. So, that the noodles can be removed for storage and to make the obstacle easier during training.

      If you can zoom in on the picture, you can see several of the pegs that do not have noodles on them. They are just a bit hard to see, since they are similar in color to the background.

      Hope this helps!

      Mary

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