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Challenge Courses

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  • Bob Orser
    Else, that was a very impressive and thoughful exposition of the what, how & why of designing a challenge course with the interests of both riders & spectators
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 16, 2010
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      Else, that was a very impressive and thoughful exposition of the what, how
      & why of designing a challenge course with the interests of both riders &
      spectators in mind. One thing I noticed at the EQ Championship (while I was
      out there handing off swords & resetting heads) was that almost every horse
      simply refused to jump over a short log when they could so easily veer
      around it. Maybe a small "wing fence" on either end of the log would help
      for it to make sense to a reasonable horse. Simulating water is not easy,
      and a blue tarp probably doesn't resemble water to a horse at all, and not
      very much to people, except for the color. Would a piece of plywood,
      painted blue, with a 3 or 4 inch board around the edges (caulked) to hold a
      couple inches of actual water be at all feasible? Of course it would also
      need wing fences to make it hard to veer around it. One thing I
      remember from the EQ event in August XXXI (that Christian ran at the
      request of then King Alden) was throwing padded-tip PVC javelins through
      hoops. (This was in addition to heads, rings, & quintain.) I recall
      being handed an armload of 3 javelins on one side of the arena, then
      maintaining a gallop while throwing them in sequence through hoops set
      along a U-shaped course. The difficulty increased from one set at an easy
      angle, to one on the curve, to the last one on the far rail set so that I
      had to hang down to the right and pitch the javelin through with a sidearm
      sort of throw. (It would have been likely to miss it if sitting up
      straight, and I think most others did miss it, though most everyone could
      get the first one, which fits it with your theme of increasing difficulty
      as you go.) It did require a scorer at each hoop to verify that the javelin
      went through it.
      - Robert of Dunharrow




      dunharrow@...
    • Elsie
      ... Standards and wings do make it easier to get a horse over the fence. Mostly I think because they create a line that gives the rider the confidence to ride
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 17, 2010
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        --- In WestKingdomEQ@yahoogroups.com, "Bob Orser" <dunharrow@...> wrote:
        >
        > Else, that was a very impressive and thoughful exposition of the what, how
        > & why of designing a challenge course with the interests of both riders &
        > spectators in mind. One thing I noticed at the EQ Championship (while I was
        > out there handing off swords & resetting heads) was that almost every horse
        > simply refused to jump over a short log when they could so easily veer
        > around it. Maybe a small "wing fence" on either end of the log would help
        > for it to make sense to a reasonable horse.


        Standards and wings do make it easier to get a horse over the fence. Mostly I think because they create a line that gives the rider the confidence to ride their horse forward. Whether or not to use them depends on the question you are asking as course designer. Sometimes the questions is can you ride this straight forward obstacle. At other times the question becomes, can you ride this variation on a straight forward obstacle. At Cynaguan Coronet, the jump was set up as a small very inviting oxer. At the championship the jump was purposely set narrow. It wasn't very big, so can you steer your horse exactly where you want him to go was part of the question.

        I agree that a tarp doesn't look like water to the horse. What you are actually testing with a tarp crossing is much like a skinny jump. Will the horse go where I tell him to? A few weeks back we had a discussion on "desensitization". To me many of these challenge course elements are the ultimate question testing that. Is your horse sufficiently engaged in what you are asking him to do that he will do it because you told him, not because of the specific task being approached?

        We've all had that ride where the horse spooks at a bush. You school them through it and then they spook at the same bush going the other direction. Watch a horse herd sometime. When my alpha mare tells the beta mare (who is twice her size) to go some where. The beta mare charges into that breech without hesitation. I think there is a lesson there for each of us.

        For my self I spend alot of time asking my horses to do stupid things at home. It saves on *some*, but by no means all, of the embarassment of having them turn me down when I ask for something weird in public. If I could just remember to *tell* them each time I would probably get farther.

        The hoop pattern sounds like a great example of raising the testing bar. I would be inclined to have the station judges raise a flag or something so that the crowd would have a clear indication of what was going on. I need to tuck that one in my bag of tricks. When in doubt, steal any good/novel/different idea you can. Adapting from other disciplines and other designers helps keep the game and your courses fresh.

        We had discussed having an archery element to the WKEC challenge course at one point, but the equipment wasn't coming to the event.

        I should add that as a course designer you do need to find the balance between bringing a ton of stuff and using what is on hand. Either can work, but when we are having events at non-horse places you will probably find that you need to bring more equipment with you then when we have events at stables and show grounds.

        Else
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