Equine Agility and Tips on Training

Many of you will know the popularity of dog agility throughout the world, with participants ranging from those who compete in teams for trophy and titles, to others who take a weekly class in their local village hall. You might have noted too that the dogs seem to relish the activities involved whilst their minds and bodies are put to the test. It’s hardly surprising then that the equine industry has started to get involved. For years humans have tested the abilities of the horse, and stretched the boundaries of what we expect them to do for us. Any horse or pony can partake in horse agility regardless of whether they are broken to ride or not, they simply need to be fit enough. Handlers can be of all ages, abilities and fitness level; the horse does the majority of the hard graft!

Training for equine agility is not a difficult process, it is vital that you don’t expect your horse to accept every obstacle within a few minutes; you must take things slowly and allow your horse to become comfortable around the equipment before you start testing him! Start slowly and build up from there.

Similarly to canine agility, equine agility has an end goal of working the horse freely over the presented obstacles. Remember you cannot expect to turn up to a competition and win without time and dedication.

The process of training your horse in equine agility can be broken down into three main points:

1. Teaching your horse to follow simple instructions while you’re leading him, either using a lunge line or lead rope.

2. Introduce verbal and physical instructions as an indicator to your horse that you want them to go over/around an obstacle.

3. The above points using consistent training and lots of patients should enable you to remove your lead/lung line for the horse to approach and manoeuvre obstacles with only your physical/verbal commands to guide them.

Equine agility doesn’t require large amounts of expensive equipment for horses or the rider. The only obvious essentials are a head collar or bridle and lead rope or lunge line for early stages of training. Some participants with to take further precautions, depending on the individual with over reach boots, tendon boots, fetlock boots or brushing boots. Handlers don’t need any particular equipment, except obviously a correctly fitting hard hat and suitable foot wear. You may consider wearing Hi-Viz tabards or waist coats depending on where you’re training or competing.