The sport of Horse Agility is fun and exciting, improves your horse’s training, and gives them loads of confidence!
Based on Dog Agility, the horse version follows a similar pattern – following a set course of tasks. Being a new sport there aren’t many competitions available in Australia, however the International On-line Horse Agility Club (OLHA) creates monthly courses which members download, build at home with whatever they have, then enter via YouTube.
When I first heard of Horse Agility I was struggling with confidence riding my green broken Arabians. I was already doing a lot of groundwork and liberty training, and was keen to have a go. Since then it has become our main discipline. Each month we have new challenges, convincing the water-shy horse to step into a tarp pool of water, building tunnels, a noodle walk, and backing over a pole without hitting it! This month Ambashir Ibn Sundance (Sundance KA x Eastwinds Axtreme) aka Sunny has been upgraded to Advanced One Star. Our first obstacle was an S shape of poles which the horse has to navigate without stopping or touching any poles, while the handler stands still halfway down one side and directs them through! Four of the obstacles are at the canter, including a curtain of fly strips. While it looks intimidating, as always he is rising to the challenge.
Being highly intelligent, Arabians work out a task quite quickly, and if they don’t understand will offer a solution. Once in utter confusion Sunny offered a side pass along the ground where a pole had been previously! While at times I look wistfully at the other breeds that take their time and sustain a slow canter you can run beside, my enthusiastic hotheads are still pulling high scores while boldly trotting through pits of plastic bottles and corridors of flags. The dark horse has been Clearwater Sparkle (Kalody Park Shuja’a x Clearwater Petal), a grumpy, dominant Arabian mare who started 18 months ago – pushing into my space, terrified of flags and biting when she didn’t want to do something! As of October she is ranked ninth on the world leaderboard, and even better, she is far nicer to work with! My third competitor is Fareed Al Bidayer (Marajj x San Jose Alfonsina) and he is quickly moving up the ranks and doing particularly well in liberty.
Agility is a sport for everyone. I love the change in the relationship with my beautiful horses and can’t wait for it to take off in Australia!