You don’t need a lot of equipment to be able to practice some of your obstacle skills at home.
With just four poles set out 90cm apart you can practise seven different ridden obstacles, plus s-bend and corridor can be done in-hand too:
When the above exercises are easy, play with setting out the poles at 45 degrees in a corner of the school to practice your angled corridor approaches.
How many shallow loops can you fit in down the long side of the school without breaking pace?
You don’t need to come in very far off the track at all, but definitely no more than 4m. If you can fit in 3 balanced shallow loops in a 40m long side, you will be able to do the bending with 6 poles set 6m apart. Fit in 4 shallow loops to be able to do it set 5m apart. Make sure you practice it on both reins to be sure that your horse is equally supple and not relying on the fence on one side.
Doing this without the bending poles means you aren’t going to crash into them if it goes wrong, especially if you are trying canter. If you can only fit in one or two loops for now, keep practising until that’s easy before going for more.
Try some ‘TREC-age’ to mix things up and improve your accuracy – try each obstacle individually before putting a few together.
Make the most of your hacks by identifying what could be used as an obstacle and riding with the intention of scoring well if it was a competition, rather than leaving it up to your horse to choose the pace & route.
If you have slopes, banks or dips to ride up and down, make sure that the path you take is straight, and that your horse stays in the same pace the whole way through.
If you have to duck to ride under low branches, make sure your horse doesn’t decide to speed up or slow down when you lean forward.
Test your ridden immobility by asking your horse to halt and releasing the contact. If your horse can’t manage the full ten seconds initially, just praise the halt and ask them to walk on after a couple of seconds. Gradually increase the length of time you ask your horse to stand for, gently correcting them back to stand if you haven’t asked them to walk on yet. Once you can do a 10 second halt reliably, try pulling up from canter and doing it!
Get off and back on in different places & from different ‘mounting blocks’ – your horse should be happy to stand still next to a boulder or tree stump, or on a lower bit of ground.
If you have safe, horse-friendly gates, avoid the temptation to let them self-close – for TREC you will need to open and close them without letting go if you want to score maximum points. Read all about how to train for gates here.