How to Easily Increase The Number of Obstacles on a Budget

country tough trail versatility equine competition horsemanship and training obstacle course Feb 01, 2024
horse over timbers while carrying flag

If you are a host of any obstacle competition, after a few events you start drawing a blank on how to change things up and keep people raving about your events and coming back!  Here’s the deal, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  The key to having new obstacles is to strategically change the old ones.

With my husband and I owning an event and trail riding facility called Von Holten Ranch that is located in north central Missouri, we host events for numerous organizations.  In the past, we spent countless hours racking our brains trying to think of obstacles.  Follow me through this article to see how we created more obstacles from one obstacle. 

Some may call it barrel board pinwheel, some may call it wind the clock, or your organization might have a whole different name.  I will refer to it as wind the clock, because that is what I first learned it to be named.  If you have two barrels and place a timber, board, or PVC pipe that is to be picked up by the rider with the equine traveling around a centrally located barrel with one end in your hand and the other staying stationary on the other barrel, then you have a wind the clock obstacle.

Follow me as we discuss how we have changed this obstacle to create new challenges for competitors:

  1. Make three barrels be in-line and only go half way around the circle.
  2. Put a bridge in the path that the equine must encounter while you are winding the clock.
  3. Staple a tarp, or orange construction webbing on the board.
  4. Place the stationary board on a bale of hay instead of a barrel.
  5. Place six barrels in-line to create two separate wind the clocks. Have the competitor do a half circle with one hand, and a second half circle with the other hand.
  6. Have the competitor back a half circle.
  7. Instead of using a timber, board or PVC pipe, use a rope with the handle being a jolly ball. This would require the stationary end to be attached to a pole that is in the barrel.  I would highly recommend not creating an obstacle that cannot come apart especially with a rope.  I would hang clothes on the rope as another option, so it looks like a clothes line.
  8. Require the rider to complete the circle in different gaits or add a stop.
  9. Require the competitor to dismount and lead their equine while you are doing the obstacle.
  10. In our latest obstacle competition, we had one barrel suspended from the rafters of the arena and had the competitors complete a half circle.

There are countless ways to make any obstacle feel new and exciting while not blowing your budget.  I have seen highly ranked equine in different organizations have difficulty when something so minor is changed.   Obstacle training is a tool used to increase the bravery of your equine and your horsemanship skills.  You have way more obstacles present than what you realized, you just need to spend the time to get creative!  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  What ideas have you come up with now?

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