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No Training Obstacles? Creative Things to Use for Horse Training

No Training Obstacles? Creative Things to Use for Horse Training

When riding with a trainer, they often have all the training obstacles you could dream of placed around the arena. From poles to flags and much more, these tools are easily accessible. But what about when you get home? What if you want to mix up your regular training routine but don’t want to invest in sometimes expensive training obstacles?

With a little creativity, some natural elements, and a few everyday household items, you can create great training opportunities for you and your horse on the ground and under saddle.


Logs are a common natural element for cross-country and trail riders, but if you are a frequent arena rider, you might not think of it. You can use small logs as ground poles and markers while using larger logs as jumps. Remove any stray branches to avoid scratching your horse’s legs.

Road Cones or Soccer Cones

Road cones are a great training tool for your horse because they are durable and brightly colored. You can use these during desensitization training by placing them around your horse’s pasture and allowing them to investigate. Some horses will even carry the cones around the paddock!

Pattern work with cones is also a good way to keep your horse interested in training and fine-tune your cues. You can start with a simple box to mark a halt or transition. You can move to serpentines, half passes, or transitions between cones in a straight or curved line when feeling more adventurous.


Mailboxes are perfect for fine-tuning your halt, side pass, and in-direct reining skills. Additionally, your horse will become used to the mailbox opening and closing. If your horse has never been exposed to mailboxes before, consider doing this exercise on the ground first to desensitize them. The skills used when approaching, opening, and closing a mailbox are similar to the skills you will need for opening and closing gates while mounted.

Patio Tables & Lawn Furniture

While you will not put either of these in your horse’s pasture, these are great navigation obstacles! Practice walking around the furniture first and slowly reducing the size of your circle. Your horse may find this a bit nerve-wracking, so take it slow. Once you get close to the furniture, slowly expand the size of the circle while keeping your horse bent towards the middle. Dressage riders will probably recognize this sneaky spiral circle!

Bicycles and Strollers

These both make great obstacles for the same reason as the patio furniture. Plus, they move! After doing the spiral circle exercise and getting your horse used to these objects when they are stationary, find a helper! Ask someone on the ground to walk with the stroller or bicycle while you approach and retreat from the object. Strollers and bicycles can be erratic and hard for some horses to accept. You may need to do this exercise often to get your horse comfortable with the movement. These are common items at horse shows, parades, trails, and events. Exposure and training with these objects will be very helpful if you trailer your horse anywhere or go trail riding on public trails.

If you'd like to invest in a few obstacles for your training, look no further. 

If you already have ground poles but need some height, check out these Jump Blocks

If you're looking for a challenge to get your horse used to the water, try the Burlingham Sports Water Box Obstacle.

And, if you're looking for used obstacles, be sure to come in or call us. We'd be happy to let you know what we have in stock!

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