Dealing with Obstacles
Recently, I hosted a clinic dealing with obstacles. The folks attending had a desire to learn and comprised a number of different skill levels. My task was to not necessarily help them over just one obstacle but to offer my philosophy on dealing with obstacles in general.
Our location was at the Cameron Ranch in Rosamond, California. The Cameron Ranch, home of the trainer and Extreme Cowboy Race judge, Bill Cameron, has a number of different obstacle courses, and just about every obstacle imaginable. As part of my program, I offer a 20-30 minute “philosophy” talk, then turn the students out on the course. Many people move right to the most difficult challenge to “see if my horse can do it”. Often, it does not.
Many people move right to the most difficult challenge to “see if my horse can do it”. Often, it does not. This forces the horse and rider to move to an easier obstacle and begin the day with a loss. I encourage folks to start with a win. Find the easiest obstacle, one you know your horse likes to do, and tackle that. Then, even another easy one would be even better. Get your horse say, “I’m glad we made it out here today. I’m having fun.”
Build on Success
Dealing with obstacles is building on that success. Each “win” gets your horse more confident of his abilities and more trusting of your judgment. After a few success, take a break. Let him soak up his awesomeness. After all, he deserves it and so do you. Sometimes as humans, we want to rush from one success to another. Like the blackjack player who wins a hand and doubles his bet on the next one. Let your horse savor the wins.
After a few minutes break, go back to the obstacle where he performed the best before moving on to more difficult obstacles. He is primed for success now and I bet you find the more challenging obstacles much easier.