Horse Agility Blog 23-02-2011

By: Horse Deals

Horse Agility Blog 23-02-2011
Horse Agility Blog 23-02-2011

Horse Agility is a fast exciting way to have fun with your horse without having to ride him. Horse Agility comprises a variety of obstacles for the horse to complete, at the higher levels this is against the clock with the horse running free which makes it a great spectator sport in which to participate.

Vanessa Bee is the founder of the Horse Agility Club and specialises in positive and natural horsemanship. In her new weekly blog she will keep us up to date with what is going on in the Horse Agility world and how you can get involved.


The full spectrum of Horse Agility has passed in front of my eyes this week. On Friday I received our first On Line Horse Agility competition entry and I was quite emotional about it. The short piece of film showed a young girl with her horse going round a course that she had put together in her back garden (still with snow on the ground!) using bits and pieces she had put together to closely resemble the set design for February. Following the instructions she completed 10 obstacles culminating in passing through a homemade strip curtain hung across her front gate, this she went through successfully finishing by turning and giving the camera a big grin! This isn’t about shiny horses, expensive obstacles and wearing the right outfit it’s about having fun, being safe and feeling good about yourself and I can see our Scottish competitor could tick all those boxes.

Saturday saw me at The Mendip Stud in Somerset linking up with John and Lou who were running a Horse Agility Workshop day. I was training some new HAATs (Horse Agility Accredited Trainers) two from Worcester and one who had flown in from Dublin for the day, very cosmopolitan! It was so interesting to see Western horsemanship ideas being incorporated into the Agility obstacles illustrating that Horse Agility is not a method it’s a sport in which anyone can compete without following a programme. As long as you go around the course as per the Club rule book it’s OK. You don’t actually have to even complete the obstacle to get a mark as the scoring system gives credit for good horsemanship as well as for completing the obstacle to encourage people to train for tomorrow.

Sunday I was on Dartmoor working with the Dartmoor Hill Pony Display Team. They are a very jolly lot with an eclectic collection of ponies which means we have little kids to teenagers because of the variety of pony sizes. We worked on completing some simple obstacles in the hope that one day we can take all the lead reins off and work loose as in dog agility. Within a few minutes of this suggestion the lead ropes were thrown over the ponies’ necks and young people and equines were rushing all over the place! Fortunately we were in a barn because the wind was very wild.

The wonderful thing about working with youngsters is that they disobey all the rules of health and safety (just like we did many years ago) and just have fun without worrying about how they are sitting they just RIDE and even though Horse Agility is about groundwork very quickly we had two girls riding the same pony and jumping through the hoop! Time to call a halt that’s quite enough wild behaviour for one day!

On Tuesday I went up to Exmoor helping Dawn Westcott and her Exmoor Stallion Hawkwell Versuvius prepare for our demo at The Game and Equine Festival in March. I hadn’t seen them for a while and what a treat to watch them play! Bear (the pony’s stable name) happily completes the obstacles without a moment’s hesitation and all with head tossing exuberance. This time we introduced a tunnel which he learnt quickly was quite safe and trotted through as though he’d been doing it all his life. We have a few away from home practices to do but it’s amazing how he’s really getting this.

The grand finale was to let the young upcoming Horse Agility Stars loose into the playground and with total naturalness they just played. Jumping the hoop, cantering over the seesaw and clattering over the bridge. The newly erected tunnel was soon explored and competed with absolute confidence and fearlessness. Indeed Penelope Pitsop, a wild Exmoor filly only two months ago, spent her practice time quite free. Galloping through the tunnel, leaping up onto the podium before racing round the arena clearing the jump on her way to galloping through the tunnel yet again, quite without any help or directions from us. Now that really is Horse Agility - naturally!

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